Singapore’s worst cyber attack

Operations unaffected at SingHealth facilities

Operations at SingHealth's facilities seemed unaffected yesterday, a day after news broke about Singapore's worst cyber attack that affected 1.5 million of the organisation's patients.

At midnight on Thursday, staff at SingHealth's four hospitals, five national specialist centres and eight polyclinics had their Internet access temporarily delinked as part of efforts to tighten security following the attack. This meant staff were unable to access the Internet from their work computers, which could cause slower online payments.

However, patients at the SingHealth clinics that The Sunday Times visited yesterday said they did not notice any difference in the time it took to register or make their payments.

Clerk Chua Siew Kwan, 55, who was at the National Cancer Centre Singapore for a check-up, said there were no problems or long waits. "No one mentioned (the cyber attack) and we didn't notice anything different," she said in Mandarin.

Her experience was echoed by other SingHealth patients. However, some raised concerns about the data leak.

Childcare teacher Vasantha Raghavan, 52, who was at Bukit Merah Polyclinic, said: "With such advanced technology, you don't know what hackers can use your private and personal information for."

She had received an SMS from SingHealth informing her that her personal details had been accessed.

 
 
 
 

The data stolen included names, identity card numbers, addresses, gender, race and dates of birth. Some 160,000 patients, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, had their outpatient prescription information accessed by the hackers.

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong also said his non-medical personal particulars had been stolen.

Replying to queries, SingHealth Group chief executive officer Ivy Ng said Internet delinking was necessary to safeguard patients' data despite inconveniences for its staff. "Patient care and safety will not be compromised," she said.

She added that SingHealth would provide interim alternatives to departments requiring Internet access. This includes having standalone computers with Internet connectivity that do not sit within SingHealth's networks.

She said patients had not reported any issues with SingHealth's services so far, and that it was monitoring the situation.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 22, 2018, with the headline 'Operations unaffected at SingHealth facilities'. Print Edition | Subscribe