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Hackers hit Life hospitals

Life Healthcare has been hit by a “criminal attack” on its IT systems.
It is not yet sure to what extent “sensitive data” has been compromised.
The hospital group’s systems have been disrupted, causing administrative delays.

Life Healthcare, which has 66 hospitals in South Africa, has been hit by a “criminal attack” on its IT systems.

“We are deeply disappointed and saddened that criminals would attack our facilities during such a time, when we are all working tirelessly and collectively to fight the Covid-19 pandemic,” acting group CEO Pieter can der Westhuizen said in a statement on Tuesday morning.

Life is not yet sure to what extent “sensitive data” has been compromised.

The company took its systems offline to contain the attack, but says that patient care has not been impacted. However, because hospitals and administrative offices have switched over to backup manual processing systems this caused administrative delays. Email servers have also been affected.

“We regret that the disruption caused by this incident may cause our patients some frustration, in what is already a trying time,” Van Der Westhuizen said.

External cyber security experts and forensic teams have been brought on board, and the authorities have been alerted.

There have been a number of recent high-profile cyber-attacks on South African companies.

In 2018, hackers seized data from the insurance company Liberty Holdings, demanding money for the return of the information.

Last year, a ransomware attack paralysed Johannesburg agency City Power’s systems, while the City of Johannesburg itself was hit by a group who called themselves the Shadow Kill Hackers demanding a ransom payment in bitcoin. Shortly thereafter, hackers launched distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on the local banks, flooding them with fake traffic. The criminals also demanded a ransom.

South Africa had the third-highest number of cybercrime victims of any country in 2019, a new report by consultancy Accenture shows.

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