The top cybersecurity experts in the country are working to respond to the ‘heinous and shocking’ ransomware attack on the HSE, according to the Taoiseach.
Speaking on his way into Cabinet this morning, Micheál Martin said the Government is doing ‘everything it possibly can’ to restore services for patients.
He admitted there is ‘every possibility’ patient’s private medical details could be leaked online – but insisted the country will not be paying any ransom.
“It is shocking that people’s lives have been disrupted to this degree by these criminals,” he said. “That is the first point.
“Secondly, we are going to do everything we possibly can to restore services for people in this situation – particularly the most urgent services people require.
“The HSE has been flat-out since the weekend working, first of all, to respond to the threat, but also to rebuild and get services back.”
"Heinous and shocking"
He said there will be no change to the Government’s “steady and methodical” response to the attack.
“I want to pay tribute to the HSE for the manner in which it has responded so far to this attack,” he said.
“It is a heinous attack; it is a shocking attack on the health service but fundamentally on the patients and the Irish public.”
He said the Government is taking advice from the country’s experts in cybersecurity and is getting “considerable support from experts in the private sector who have rallied to the Irish cause.”
Officials have warned that it could be weeks before the health service gets back to normal as the HSE works to rebuild its systems.
The attack has impacted on a huge number of services, with thousands of patient appointments cancelled.
Government ministers will be briefed on the latest developments at Cabinet this morning.
“The implications are serious,” said Mr Martin. “We know that and they have resulted in significant disruption to our health service.
“The criminals involved here attack health services and systems and indeed other private sector systems across the world and we have to have a robust and strong response to that.
“But fundamentally we are now focused on restoring our health service as quickly as we possibly can and that is the work that is underway at the moment.”
"Another layer of fear"
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, a cancer patient whose treatment has been delayed by the attack said it just adds another layer to ‘the fear’ for patients.
On the show yesterday, HSE Chief Operations Officer Anne O’Connor said there was no guarantee the hackers would not leak sensitive medical data online.