Millions of HSE patients are warned that their personal treatment data and even the intimate details of their private lives could be made public today.
A massive data dump of private information will take place today by ruthless Russian cybercriminals after the government refused to pay a € 16 million ransom.
Anyone who has used HSE services is potentially at risk and it is feared that some patients, including those treated for diseases such as sexually transmitted diseases, could be blackmailed.
There is evidence that the criminals, known as the Wizard Spider cartel, have already sold confidential patient information to other criminals who will now use it to extort cash from the Irish public.
Former Health Minister Simon Harris said there is a “real risk” that more patient data will be released today.
He told RTE’s The Week in Politics that the data dump has already begun. The Minister of Higher Education said: “There is some evidence that it may have already happened in some cases and that has been
verified by gardai.
“There is a really important message and it is really vital and that is that if you are contacted asking for your bank details, the State will never contact you asking for your bank details over the phone or by email.
“And in my experience, the State will never contact you to offer you a refund.”
The deadline to pay the ransom is running out today and the government insists the state will not give in to blackmail, but some members of the public may succumb to extortion attempts to have their private medical records made public.
In a statement, the government warned the public to contact gardai if someone contacted them and claimed to have their details.
It read: “Theft and disclosure of medical data would be a particularly despicable crime because it involves sensitive information. Any public disclosure of this data would be illegal.
“The Government urges anyone who has reason to suspect that they are a victim of this cyberattack to make a report at the local Garda station or via the Garda Confidential line. The line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1800 666 111 “.
HSE chief Paul Reid said the outage could last for weeks.
He told RTE’s This Week: “You will probably see that some hospitals have access to some of the national systems, including the patient management system, but it is a slower process, for the next week and also for the next few weeks.”