Singapore: Personal details of Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong were targeted in a cyber-attack on the database of the country's biggest public healthcare group.
The attackers "specifically and repeatedly targeted" the premier's personal information on the SingHealth database, including on his outpatient dispensed medicines, the Ministry of Communications and Information and Ministry of Health said in a joint statement on Friday.
A recent trail of large-scale cyber-attacks on the global health-care industry has exposed the vulnerability of the sector. Last year's global WannaCry ransomware attack crippled parts of the UK's National Health Service for days. In a 2015 hack, US health insurance giant Anthem had about 79 million customers' personal information exposed.
Hackers targeted personal details of Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsieng Loong.
In Australia, thousands of people are opting out of the new digital medical record program despite assurances of high security levels. Australians have three months to choose whether to opt out from the federal government’s new program.
About 1.5 million patients who visited SingHealth's specialist outpatient clinics and polyclinics from May 2015 to July 4 this year had their non-medical personal particulars illegally accessed and copied, according to the statement.
Information taken include names, identify card numbers, addresses, gender, race and date of birth. No records were amended or deleted, and there is no evidence of a similar breach in the other public healthcare IT systems, the government said.
"Perhaps they were hunting for some dark state secret, or at least something to embarrass me," Lee said in a Facebook post. "If so, they would have been disappointed. My medication data is not something I would ordinarily tell people about, but there is nothing alarming in it."
The prime minister took care to defend the benefits of digitising medical records even as he acknowledged the risks. He had asked to be included in the project to computerise his information because "going digital would enable my doctors to treat me more effectively and in a timely manner," he said, adding he was confident that SingHealth would do their best to protect the information for all its patients.
"Of course, I also knew that the database would be attacked, and there was a risk that one day despite our best efforts it might be compromised," he said. "Unfortunately that has now happened."
Investigations show the cyber attacks started on June 27 until July 4, when database administrators from Singapore's Integrated Health Information System first detected unusual activity on SingHealth's IT database, the government said. Police investigations are continuing.
Lee has ordered the relevant government agencies to tighten up their defences and processes. The government is convening a Committee of Inquiry to look thoroughly into this incident, he said.
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