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Deputy Kelleher was commenting after it was reported that three Irish hospitals were targeted over the weekend.
“We cannot have a situation where the HSE could potentially be held to ransom over access to critically important services and facilities through a concerted and targeted attack on their networks.
“The implications of such an attack are deeply worrying. Our health system is in a fragile enough state as it is. We cannot allow such an attack to happen, and possibly disrupt it even further.”
Earlier this year, the Medical Independent (MI) reported of concerns expressed by the Master of the Rotunda Hospital, Dublin, Prof Fergal Malone, over the possibility of ransomware attacks.
The “perils of malware software” were cited by Prof Malone in the context of the continuing rollout of a national electronic health record (EHR) for maternity services, according to hospital board meeting minutes seen by MI.
The Master noted that a number of “high-profile institutions” in the US had been affected by such malware/ransomware.
In comments to MI in February, HSE Chief Information Officer Mr Richard Corbridge said cyber security issues and protection “are a big part of all healthcare systems” as it is “clear that health is a target”.
However, he added that “we can protect digital information more easily than we can paper information in 2017”.