Colac Herald, Colac (General News)
The State Opposition has weighed in on the cyber security breach at south-west Victorian hospitals, questioning the diligence of the government’s digital defence mechanisms. This comes after the South West Alliance of Rural Health, which incorporates hospitals in Colac and district, had its information technologies attacked by unknown offenders on Monday evening, activating emergency protocols. Member for Polwarth Richard Riordan said he would like to see the community reassured about the safety of government computer networks.
“I would certainly be wondering what support the government had given them for cyber security and what resources they had,” he said.
“At the moment, our south-west hospitals are under fairly significant financial stress and they wouldn’t have surplus funds to be managing risks in terms of IT developers and managers.
“Our health networks would be the largest employer and industry right across south-west Victoria in terms of physical computers and infrastructure in place, so the avenues to access this are enormous.
“It’s a highly complex system required to keep it safe and the community needs to know what support the government has given to keep it safe.”
The Department of Premier and Cabinet said in a statement this week that its Victorian Government Cyber Incident Response Service was in place to provide emergency support after cyber attacks on government computer systems, such as those of hospitals. It said the service had responded to more than 600 cyber attacks since launching in July 2018.
Deputy Opposition Leader Georgie Crozier pointed out that the government had not provided any additional money to hospitals to defend their information technologies, after a May report from the Victorian Auditor General’s Office revealed frailties in the system.
The report said an independent officer had “accessed patient data to demonstrate the significant and present risk to the security of patient data and hospital services.”
The current attack is a ransomware infiltration, which affects the hospitals’ internal systems, but there is no evidence that hackers have accessed patient data.