SingHealth, largest healthcare group in Singapore, suffered a massive data breach

Pierluigi Paganini July 20, 2018

SingHealth, the largest healthcare group in Singapore, suffered a massive data breach that exposed 1.5 Million patient records.

The largest healthcare group in Singapore, SingHealth, has suffered a massive data breach that exposed personal information of 1.5 million patients who visited the clinics of the company between May 2015 and July 2018. Stolen records include patient’s name, address, gender, race, date of birth, and National Registration Identity Card (NRIC) numbers.

SingHealth has 42 clinical specialties, a network of 2 Hospitals, 5 National Specialty Centres, 9 Polyclinics, and Bright Vision Community Hospital.

According to a data breach notification released by Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH), hackers stole personal information along with ‘information on the outpatient dispensed medicines’ of about 160,000 patients. Data belonging to Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and of other ministers have been exposed in the security breach.

“About 1.5 million patients who visited SingHealth’s specialist outpatient clinics and polyclinics from 1 May 2015 to 4 July 2018 have had their non-medical personal particulars illegally accessed and copied. The data taken include name, NRIC number, address, gender, race and date of birth. Information on the outpatient dispensed medicines of about 160,000 of these patients was also exfiltrated. The records were not tampered with, i.e. no records were amended or deleted.” reads the data breach notification.

“On 4 July 2018, IHiS’ database administrators detected unusual activity on one of SingHealth’s IT databases. They acted immediately to halt the activity,” 

SingHealth Singapore hack

According to Singapore’s authorities, the hackers specifically and repeatedly targeted Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s data.

MOH explained that the data breach is the result of a targeted attack, local media speculate the involvement of a nation-state actor in the cyber attack.

“Investigations by the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) and the Integrated Health Information System (IHiS)[1] confirmed that this was a deliberate, targeted and well-planned cyberattack. It was not the work of casual hackers or criminal gangs.” reads the press release.

Commenting on the cyber attack through a Facebook post published today,

Singapore’s Prime Minister declared the attackers are “extremely skilled and determined” and they have “huge resources” to conduct such cyber attacks repeatedly, a attacker’s profile that match with an APT group.

“I don’t know what the attackers were hoping to find. Perhaps they were hunting for some dark state secret or at least something to embarrass me. If so, they would have been disappointed,” Singapore PM said. “My medication data is not something I would ordinarily tell people about, but nothing is alarming in it.”  wrote Singapore’s Prime Minister.

“Those trying to break into our data systems are extremely skilled and determined. They have huge resources, and never give up trying. Government systems come under attack thousands of times a day. Our goal has to be to prevent every single one of these attacks from succeeding. If we discover a breach, we must promptly put it right, improve our systems, and inform the people affected.”

The good news for Singapore citizens is that no medical records were accessed by hackers.

All affected patients will be contacted by the healthcare institution over the next five days.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – SingHealth, data breach)

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