Cyber attack on Waikato DHB’s IT system won’t be fixed until the weekend

A serious cyber attack on the Waikato District Health Board’s entire IT system, disrupting many of its services including emails and phone lines and forcing surgeries to be postponed, won’t be fixed until the weekend.

Waikato DHB’s entire IT service was sent into disarray yesterday morning leaving the health service along with other government and external experts scrambling to get its IT system back online.

A Waikato DHB spokesperson told the Herald they hoped to have everything up and running by the weekend.

The outage has impacted all hospitals under the Waikato DHB including Waikato, Thames, Tokoroa, Te Kuiti and Taumarunui.

Some outpatient clinics have been cancelled and families trying to reach their loved ones in hospital were urged to contact them on their personal mobile phones where possible due to the hospitals’ phone lines also being down.

A number of elective surgeries had also been postponed and staff could not access patient notes.

The DHB has called in the help of external experts and the national spy agency.

Earlier indications to staff yesterday suggested the IT systems might be down for 24 hours – but the latest advice from the DHB to the Herald indicated it will be at least four days.

A Waikato DHB statement released yesterday said it was “working hard” to get its service back online.

A spokesman for the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) – a branch of the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) – confirmed staff were providing support to Waikato DHB following yesterday’s attack.

The spokesman said the NCSC’s role was to help protect New Zealand organisations of national significance “from advanced, persistent, primarily state-sponsored, cyber security threats”.

“We are very conscious that malicious cyber actors can monitor public commentary on an incident and for this reason, while the investigation and remediation efforts are ongoing, we will not provide additional details regarding its cause or the response to it.”

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