Largest Not-For-Profit Hospital Network in Australia Targeted by Hackers

Cyber criminals have infiltrated the database of Australia’s largest not-for-profit health and aged care provider, prompting authorities to scramble in response to the breach. St Vincent’s Health Australia, which operates 10 private hospitals and 26 aged-care facilities across New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland, reported the hack on Dec. 22, stating that it had been discovered a few days earlier and that evidence showed cyber criminals had removed some data from the network.

St Vincent’s Health has taken steps to isolate the data breach and has informed relevant government departments of the incident. The hospital network is currently investigating the breach to determine the extent and nature of the stolen data. It remains unclear whether the hackers accessed patients’ medical records, and St Vincent’s Health has assured the public that the hack has not impacted its regular operations, saying the incident has not affected its ability to deliver services to patients, residents, and the broader community.

In response to the breach, National Cyber Security Coordinator Darren Goldie and his team are working with Services Australia, the Department of Health and Aged Care, and relevant State and Territory agencies to address the incident and mitigate any flow-on effects. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese expressed that he was not informed of the hack but would receive a briefing when appropriate, highlighting cyber security as a significant issue and emphasizing the government’s response in the form of a dedicated cyber security minister and strategy.

This data breach is just the latest in a series of cyber attacks that have targeted large corporations and government agencies in Australia since September 2022. DP World, Australia’s second-largest port operator, was hit by a cyber attack in early November 2023, leading to the suspension of all operating activities. While the company was able to resume operation shortly after the incident, it warned of potential further disruptions due to the hack’s impact.

The incident raised concerns about a widespread supply chain disruption that could lead to goods shortages across the country in the lead-up to the Christmas holiday season. Home Affairs and Cybersecurity Minister Clare O’Neil has acknowledged that Australia is vulnerable to cyber attacks, highlighting the urgent need for enhanced security measures to prevent future breaches.

As cyber threats continue to pose significant challenges to the security and stability of private and public institutions, Australians await further developments and government action to address these growing concerns. The urgency of the situation underscores the need for enhanced security measures and coordinated efforts to protect sensitive data and essential services from malicious cyber attacks.


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