Singapore has suffered an incredibly far reaching cyberattack. The healthcare company, “SingHealth,” was hacked, and the information for one and half million people has been exposed. This includes people who have visited the company’s clinics in the past three years, and the Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong. Media in Singapore are declaring this hack as one of the “worst” cyberattacks in recent memory.
For most people, no medical information was stolen; instead, the hackers took data like addresses, birth dates, and other identity information. However, for 160,000 people who were targeted, including Prime Minister Loong, medical info was leaked.
According to the investigations of the Singaporean government and statements by the Prime Minister, the hack was not done by “casual hackers or criminal gangs.” They believe that the hack purposefully targeted the Prime Minister and attempted to obtain his information. The Prime Minister has stated in a Facebook post that “Perhaps they were hunting for some dark state secret, or at least something to embarrass me,” but that they would have been “disappointed,” and furthermore the Prime Minister said “My medication data is not something I would ordinarily tell people about, but there is nothing alarming in it.” Furthermore, he believes that the hackers have “huge resources,” somewhat confirming that there is a suspicion this was a government sponsored attack.
The whole issue raised an interesting question about the security of digital systems versus paper systems for sensitive data. Prime Minister Loong has firmly stated that although there is a risk to putting data in a digital system and everything done to prevent a breach must be done, the security risk is well worth the benefit. He has said that it enables quicker access to records and more efficient treatment, and firmly justifies digital records, saying “We cannot go back to paper records and files. We have to go forward, to build a secure and smart nation.”
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