One-fourth of Singapore residents hit in data theft

One-fourth of Singapore residents hit in data theft

The hack of the country's largest group of healthcare providers, SingHealth, led to the theft of personally identifying information for a quarter of the country's 5.6m population. It's the intent of its use that determines the outcome or consequences he said.

In 2017, hackers broke into a defense ministry database, stealing the information of some 850 army conscripts and ministry staff. The data consists of people who visited clinics and hospitals across the country between 1 May 2015 and 4 July of this year. The data stolen in the cyber attack includes personal identity information like names, addresses, dates of birth and national registry numbers.

Similar measures are being put in place for IT systems across the public healthcare sector against this threat, the government said.

While Singapore's Health Minister, Gan Kim Yong, apologised for the breach and to affected patients, Communications and Information Minister S Iswaran vowed to get to the bottom of the incident.

In February, the USA and United Kingdom said that the Russian military was behind a "malicious" cyber-attack on Ukraine a year ago that spread globally.

Government officials did not say who might have been behind the attack, but a joint statement by the health and communications ministries suggested a high degree of sophistication.

"It was not the work of casual hackers or criminal gangs", the ministry said.

A recent emergence of text messages telling people that their phone number, financial information and medical records have been compromised has been debunked as fake by SingHealth. The government is convening a Committee of Inquiry to look thoroughly into this incident, he said.

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It appears that a computer belonging to SingHealth, one of the state's two major government healthcare groups, was infected with malware through which the hackers gained access to the database.

No further data has been stolen since July 4.

The miniseries assured that they have tightened SingHealth's IT security and imposed Internet separation policies to secure the data from further cyber threats. All other medical institutions invited to do the same.

Unusual activity was first detected on one of SingHealth's IT databases on 4 July.

The government had previously warned of cyber-attacks, saying it has been the target of worldwide hackers but most attacks were foiled.

Police investigations are ongoing.

Some hackers have in the past offered stolen data and software for sale online.

In a Friday blog post, Loong writes: "When SingHealth digitized its medical records, they asked me whether to computerize my own personal records too, or to keep mine in hardcopy for security reasons". All patients are being contacted by the government to be informed about the breach, and the process will complete within five days. "I would like to apologise to the affected patients".

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