Cyberthreat healthcare alert came months before HSE hit by hackers

The National Cyber Security Centre warned of potential ransomware attacks on the health service in October 2020, more than four months before the Health Service Executive was targeted by hackers, it has been revealed.

The health service was hit by a massive cyberattack earlier this year which caused chaos in hospitals, delayed patient care and and led to expected costs of almost €100 million.

A malicious file attached to a phishing email opened on March 18th led to a shutdown of the HSE’s computer systems once the Conti ransomware was “denotated” on May 14th.

The criminal gang behind the attack – believed by several observers to be most likely based in Russia – demanded $20 million (€17.7 billion) in Bitcoin.

The Government said no ransom would be paid and on May 20th the hackers posted a link to a key that decrypted files which had been encrypted by the ransomware.