New Zealand's Waikato district

New Zealand Health Systems Hackers Publicly Release Patient Information

Hackers who targeted hospitals in New Zealand’s Waikato district sent private patient information to media outlets by email as the country’s health systems struggled to return to normal for over a week following the attack.

Following their attack on the Waikato District Health Board (DHB), a group claiming responsibility released records and documents which contained patient and staff names, phone numbers, and addresses. 

The Waikato DHB serves more than 425,000 people. Media outlets decided not to report details and sent the email to the police.

Waikato’s health systems breakdown continues, disrupting patient treatment and employees’ payroll process. In the wake of a surge in patients, the hospitals have reverted to manual procedures to keep up with the load.

Authorities wouldn’t comment on whether the cyber attackers made any demands.

“We are aware that malicious actors can see what is being said in the media, and that this can influence their behaviour. On that basis, we can make no further comment on this,” Waikato DHB Chief Executive Kevin Snee said in a statement.

The hackers demanded a ransom of over US$100 for access to the systems of the Waikato DHB. The government will not pay any ransom to the hackers.

Previously, Ireland’s health service operator was hit in a ransomware attack by international cybercriminals, but there was no evidence this attack and the attack in New Zealand were by the same group.

This week, the Federal Investigation Bureau said the cybercriminals hitting the Irish health system used malicious software called “Conti,” and targeted at least 16 U.S. medical and first-response networks in the past year.

New Zealand’s stock market was struck by a cyberattack last year, and the central bank’s systems were hit in an Accellion-related attack.

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