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Technology / Cybersecurity

Singapore’s Offical Health Database Breached to the Tune of 1.5 Million Records

SingHealth, the Singapore government’s health database, has been hacked in an attack that netted the personal details of over 1.5 million people – including the medical records of the city state’s Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong.

According to a government statement: “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.”

It did state that none of the records were tampered with and none of them have been erased from the system.

The PM said in a Facebook post: “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.”

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“My medication data is not something I would ordinarily tell people about, but there is nothing alarming in it,” he added.

Singapore’s Cyber Security Agency (CSA) has identified the initial vulnerability and access point for the hackers who “accessed the SingHealth IT system through an initial breach on a particular front-end workstation.”

“They subsequently managed to obtain privileged account credentials to gain privileged access to the database,” they added.

Fraser Kyne, EMEA CTO and security expert at Bromium commented to Computer Business Review that: “It appears the initial infection came through a single user endpoint being infected with malware, which then worked its way through the network.”

“This once again highlights how today’s cybersecurity is a house of cards, it just takes one person to click on the wrong thing for the whole thing to come crashing down.”

Attack on the State

The Singapore government have stated that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s records “specifically and repeatedly targeted” and that his outpatient dispensed medicines were one of the main targets along with his particular personal information.

Eric Hoh, President of Asia Pacific cybersecurity company FireEye told us in an email statement that: “Health records contain information that is valuable to governments and they are often targeted by nation-state threat actors.”

“Nation-states increasingly collect intelligence through cyber espionage operations which exploit the very technology we rely upon in our daily lives. Many businesses and governments in Southeast Asia face cyber threats, but few recognize the scale of the risks they pose,” he added.

The PM said on his Facebook page: “When SingHealth digitised its medical records, they asked me whether to computerise my own personal records too or to keep mine in hardcopy for security reasons. I asked to be included.

“Going digital would enable my doctors to treat me more effectively and in a timely manner. I was confident that SingHealth would do their best to protect my patient information, just as it did for all their other patients in the database.”

This article is from the CBROnline archive: some formatting and images may not be present.

CBR Staff Writer

CBR Online legacy content.