The Health Service Executive (HSE), Ireland's national healthcare provider, has been the victim of a sophisticated cyber attack that started as a fairly routine Distributed Denial of Service attack yesterday, before successfully penetrating systems early this morning four years to the day after the NHS was affected by the WannaCry virus.
"There is a significant ransomware attack on the HSE IT systems. We have taken the precaution of shutting down all our our IT systems in order to protect them from this attack and to allow us fully assess the situation with our own security partners," said HSE in a statement.
Earlier, speaking on RTE breakfast news, Paul Reid, HSE's Chief Executive, said that they were working to contain a "significant and serious" human-operated ransomware attack on its IT systems, which was affecting all systems involved in core services.
"We are working with all of our major IT security providers and the national security cyber team are involved and being alerted," he revealed.
Hospital groups in the country are announcing that they are "largely operating on back-up manual systems" and urging patients to not visit hospital unless in an emergency.
There have been cancellations and disruption to services at a number of hospitals, and the booking system for Covid jabs is not working. The disruption is likely to continue over the weekend.
In 2017, it took four days for the NHS to recover from the impact of WannaCry after more than a third of NHS trusts across the UK suffered disruption, and over 20,000 appointments were cancelled.
James is the Editor of Government Transformation magazine, and has been covering digital government and public sector reform for 20 years. He also oversees the development of the UK's biggest network of public sector transformation conferences.