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Gauteng's health lab test results delayed due to a cyber-attack

By , Junior writer
South Africa , 02 Jul 2024
Cyber-attack has causes delays of health lab test results in Gauteng.
Cyber-attack has causes delays of health lab test results in Gauteng.

National Health Laboratory Services (INHLS) has shut down its IT system for repairs following a ransomware attack last week.

The backup servers for the IT systems were also targeted prompting NHLS to shut them down.

The cyber-attack has caused a delay in the Gauteng Department of Health's lab test results.

According to the NHLS, preliminary investigations revealed that the ransomware targeted certain portions of the IT system, prohibiting connectivity between the Laboratory Information System (LIS) and other databases and users.

The NHLS first acknowledged the security breach last week, and the hack rendered systems inaccessible both internally and externally, including from and to health facilities across the province.

Despite the security incident, the NHLS reported that an inquiry revealed that no patient data was stolen because the patient database was not exposed.

Under normal conditions, laboratory reports are created automatically and delivered to doctors or accessed via Web View; however, the ransomware assault has stopped this feature.

The results are presently being delivered via telephone. According to South Africa's Information Regulator, local businesses encounter approximately 100 cyber security breaches per month.

In a statement, NHLS CEO Prof Koleka Mlisina outlined the findings of the inquiry.

She explained: “It has established that sections of our system have been deleted including our backup server and this will require rebuilding the affected parts. Unfortunately, this will take and investigations thus far have not advanced enough for us to give a time frame toward the restoration of our systems and full service.”

“In response to the breach, the NHLS activated its Incidental Response Team, which included both internal and external cyber security experts.” 

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