‘No ransom will be paid’: Waikato DHB not giving in to cyber security attackers

Waikato DHB’s IT centre is the target of a major cyber security attack. Video / Waikato DHB

Waikato District Health Board’s top boss said no ransom will be paid to cyber security attackers who have targeted its IT services today.

Chief executive Kevin Snee told Stuff “no ransom will be paid” and he did not know who was behind the attack.

Cyber security expert Bruce Armstrong told the Herald he believes it is a ransomware attack on Waikato DHB from Asia or the Middle East, similar to what has hit the Irish health system in recent days.

He believes it is similar in nature to the DDoS attacks that rocked the New Zealand Stock Exchange (NZX) last year and overrun its system for days.

“Health organisations are highly prized as targets globally and health industries throughout the world are the most attacked and most expensive type of attacks that happen,” the Darkscope founder said.

“The normal pattern is they will warn the organisation they will do it, and run half an hour DDoS attacks, and if the ransom is not paid they will attack at hours at a time.

“The attack on the NZX played out over three days before they were able to completely stop its affect on their systems.”

He said ransomware attacks are not targeting patient data and the only interest is to get money from the organisation.

“It’s purely commercial … they’re just doing it to take money from the organisations that they’re attacking,” Armstrong said.

“It’s a game of cat and mouse. Unless defence systems can get better we will see them happening throughout the world.”

The major cyber security attack has been described as “mayhem” and could take days to fix, a union representing doctors says.

Clinical services across all Waikato public hospitals have been seriously affected by the cyber security incident, with all phones and computers down.

Waikato District Health Board has set up a coordinated incident management system to try to resolve the situation as soon as possible.

The DHB said it was experiencing a full outage of its information services.

Clinical services at Waikato, Thames, Tokoroa, Te Kuiti and Taumaranui hospitals are all affected to varying degrees.

“We have engaged external assistance to address a cyber…