SecurityBrief New Zealand logo
New Zealand's leading source of cybersecurity and cyber-attack news
Story image

Waikato DHB cyber attack: 'Sense of violation' over data hack claim

By Jane Patterson, RNZ
Wed 26 May 2021
FYI, this story is more than a year old

There is widespread alarm about what might happen to highly sensitive patient and staff information from Waikato District Health Board, that hackers claim to have obtained.

A group purporting to be responsible for last week's cyber attack has emailed some media saying it has personal information of patients and employees.

Scores of official looking records and documents containing names, phone numbers, and addresses of patients and staff have been released.

The email and its contents have been referred to the police.

Minister of Health Andrew Little is refusing to front, only issuing a statement saying ransomware attacks are a crime, and that he has been in touch with the Waikato DHB Commissioner Dame Karen Poutasi "about any assistance the DHB requires to support people whose information may have been held in the DHB's systems".

"There is an active police investigation. Other agencies such as the NCNS (National Cyber Security Centre) and the Privacy Commissioner continue to support the DHB," the statement said.

Cyber experts say the danger is the hackers could sell the data to other cyber criminals, which could then be used to scam the victims, but whether a ransom was paid or not there was still no guarantee the data would be secure.

Patients' Rights chairperson Carolyn McKenzie said it was a "very serious matter" that could have a huge impact on someone's life.

"For instance, somebody who perhaps has had a child, they haven't disclosed to family members, or have had other more intimate surgeries that they would rather keep to themselves, that can have an impact on the way in which the rest of the family receives them or or treats them," McKenzie said.

There was "a sense of violation when you realise that somebody is using your information to advantage themselves... a deep sense of betrayal for those patients who have been so exposed".

There was no way of compensating for that kind of breach, she said.

"How could you possibly compensate somebody? For that?

"No doubt, there will be some small financial compensation here and there for some people, but really, there isn't any way to compensate... they can only try and improve the security measures that they have on these things."

National Secretary for APEX Union and the Resident Doctors Association, Deborah Powell, said it was "just low-life behaviour".

"And can I just say, well done to the media for not using it, because this is this is patient and staff information that is confidential... we mustn't buy into releasing that sort of information publicly. It's just wrong," Powell said.

For medical staff the confidentiality of patient information "goes to the heart of the relationship... it's our bread and butter", she said.

If patients did not feel comfortable and confident sharing such highly personal information, doctors could not do their job.

For staff to see others disrespecting something "that fundamental to the health care relationship" would be quite upsetting, she said, "probably even more upsetting than their own private information".

Staff at the DHB were already dealing with the stress of the fallout of having the whole IT system compromised, and Powell said the way they "act, the way we react is important here".

"From the point of view of the media having received the stuff but not using it, that will help immensely - the confidence of the staff to carry on, the pressure on them not being as great as that information won't be released.

"That will help. That will help a lot."

In his statement Little encouraged anyone in the Waikato region concerned about their personal information to call the special response line 0800 561 234, which reopened at 8.30 this morning, and "anyone who needs to talk" could call the free counselling service 1737.

Waikato DHB chief executive Kevin Snee said the DHB was constrained by what it could say.

"We can't comment as it's a matter of police investigation and we are aware that public commentary can be monitored by the malicious actor so we will not be commenting any further."

The files

RNZ reporter Phil Pennington, who has reviewed the documents to see if they were genuine, told Checkpoint there were dozens of files within files.

The documents appeared to include recent data on staff numbers and names, including financial records, contracts and complaints, as well as sensitive patient information, Pennington said.

"It would be a very big exercise indeed to fake something like this, it does appear that they do have sensitive patient information ... there is a lot of it."

The files also included screenshots identifying hundreds of patients and staff, a few individual records, and some documents spelled out diagnoses, and medical information.

RNZ is taking care to limit the number of staff who can access the information, and confined it so it was not accessible on a network.

RNZ logo
This story was originally published on and is republished with permission.
Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Stock security features inadequate in face of rising risk
"Organisations must proactively find ways of identifying unseen vulnerabilities and should take a diligent, holistic approach to cybersecurity."
Story image
Video: 10 Minute IT Jams - An update from CrowdStrike
Scott Jarkoff joins us today to discuss current trends in the cyber threat landscape, and the reporting work CrowdStrike is doing to prevent further cyber harm.
Story image
Forescout reveals top vulnerabilities impacting OT vendors
Forescout’s Vedere Labs has disclosed OT: ICEFALL, naming 56 vulnerabilities affecting devices from 10 operational technology vendors.
Story image
Digital Transformation
What CISOs think about cyber security, visibility and cloud
Seeking to uncover the minds of CISOs and CIOs across Asia Pacific, my company recently asked Frost & Sullivan to take a snapshot of cloud adoption behaviour in the region.
Story image
Trend Micro
5G network projects driven by improving security and privacy
Trend Micro's new study reveals the prospect of improved security and privacy capabilities are the main motivations behind private 5G wireless network projects.
Story image
Flashpoint unveils security offering for school boards
Flashpoint has released its K-12 risk management and security offering to provide school boards and education security practitioners with tools to recognise, prevent and manage cyber and physical threats.
Story image
Threat actors ramp up their social engineering attacks
As people get better at identifying potential threats in their inbox, threat actors must evolve their methods. Their new M.O? Social engineering.
Story image
Aqua Security launches cloud native security SaaS in APAC
Aqua Security has announced the general availability of cloud native security SaaS in Singapore, serving the broader APAC region.
Story image
New survey uncovers critical OT security challenges
While industrial control environments continue to be a target for cyber criminals, there are widespread gaps in industrial security.
Story image
Online identity theft is rising in NZ - here’s what to do about it
It may start with a few stolen details online, but it could end with thousands of dollars missing or worse, a reputation down the drain.
Story image
Greater API usage raises concerns for protection - report
Radware has released its 2022 State of API Security report, which shows a rise in APIs, with 92% of the organisations surveyed significantly or somewhat increasing their usage.
Story image
Aqua Security, CIS create software supply chain security guide
Aqua Securityand the Center for Internet Security have together released the industry’s first formal guidelines for software supply chain security.
Story image
Hundreds arrested, millions seized in global INTERPOL investigation
A two-month-long investigation by INTERPOL this year involved 76 countries and clamped down on organised crime groups behind telecommunications and social engineering scams.
Story image
Q1 DDoS and application attack activity reveals surprise result
The cybersecurity threat landscape in the first quarter of 2022 represented a mixed bag of old enemies and new foes. New actors dominated the DDoS threat landscape while application security faced tried-and-true attack vectors.
Story image
Overcoming hybrid and multi-cloud challenges to drive innovation
Driven by improvements in technology, financial services companies have advanced both internal and external systems and processes, with the likes of digitisation, personalisation and risk management redefining the industry.
Story image
SMX partnership with Microsoft leads to NTT recognition
SMX has captured the attention of NTT after receiving positive reviews from businesses across Australasia and beyond for its email security.
Story image
Trend Micro unveils dedicated security for electric vehicles
The cybersecurity company has announced VicOne - dedicated security for the electric vehicles and connected cars of today and tomorrow.
Story image
Secure access service edge / SASE
Cloudflare adds new capabilities to zero trust SASE platform
New features for Cloudflare One include email security protection, data loss prevention tools, cloud access security broker, and private network discovery.
Story image
Palo Alto Networks named Google Cloud technology partner of the year for security
Palo Alto Networks was recognised for helping organisations rapidly transform security operations for future success.
Story image
The link between cybersecurity, extremist threat and misinformation online in Aotearoa
Long story short, it's often the case that misinformation, threat and extremism link closely to cybersecurity issues and cyber harm.
Story image
Vulnerable APIs costing businesses billions every year
Large companies are particularly vulnerable to the security risks associated with exposed or unprotected APIs as they accelerate digital transformation.  
Story image
Internet of Things
Domino's Pizza: A blueprint for secure enterprise IoT deployment
Increasingly, organisations are embracing smart technologies to underpin innovations that can enhance safety and productivity in every part of our lives, from industrial systems, utilities, and building management to various forms of business enablement.
Story image
Digital Transformation
Cybersecurity priorities for digital leaders navigating digital transformation
In recent years, Asia-Pacific has especially been a hotspot for cyberattacks, and as we continue into 2022, it’s evident that the problem is becoming more significant.
Story image
Tech job moves
Tech job moves - Boomi, Limepay, Thales, VMware & Zoom
We round up all job appointments from June 6-16, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Varonis strengthens security capabilities for AWS and S3
Varonis has strengthened and expanded its cloud and security capabilities, with a critical aim of improving safety and boosting data visibility in Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3).
Story image
Ready for anything with the PagerDuty Operations Cloud
In a world of digital everything, teams face increasing complexity. Ever-growing dependencies across systems and processes put customer and employee experience, not to mention revenue, at risk.
Story image
Industry-first comprehensive risk-based API security enhances protection
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) have become a crucial part of operating web and mobile application businesses and are causing significant economic growth in the digital sector.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Abnormal Security finds financial supply chain under threat
New research by Abnormal Security has found a rising trend in financial supply chain compromise as threat actors increasingly impersonate vendors.
Story image
Ingram Micro launches vendor-backed security program
Ingram Micro has unveiled a new program intended to give resellers the effective offerings their customers need to stay safe in the evolving threat landscape.
Story image
Network Security
Netskope announces zero trust network access updates
Customers can now apply zero trust principles across a range of hybrid work security needs, including SaaS, IaaS, private applications, and endpoint devices.
Story image
Amazon Web Services / AWS
Zscaler, AWS accelerate onramp to the cloud with zero trust
Zscaler has announced an extension to its relationship with Amazon Web Services, as well as innovations built on Zscaler's Zero Trust architecture.
Story image
Identity and Access Management
Ping Identity launches corporate venture capital fund
Ping Identity has launched a corporate venture capital fund to foster innovative offerings for the identity security market.
Story image
Unknown connections: How safe is public WiFi in Aotearoa?
If it's not your own household WiFi, then who has control of your data and is your connection actually safe?
Story image
Dark web
Cybercrime in Aotearoa: How does New Zealand law define it?
‘Cybercrime’ is a term we hear all the time, but what exactly is it, and how does New Zealand define it in legal terms?
Story image
LastPass announces new capability for iPhones and iPads
LastPass has announced its new save and fill experience, allowing customers to fill in, create and save their credentials directly within the site's form field.
Story image
Securonix partners with Snowflake, Zscaler in joint venture
Securonix is embarking on a joint technology integration with Snowflake and Zscaler to speed up threat detection and response at cloud scale.
Story image
Gartner's top recommendations for security leaders
"Leaders now recognise that major disruption is only one crisis away. We can’t control it, but we can evolve our thinking, philosophy, program and architecture.”
Story image
Sternum joins NXP, collaborates on IoT security and observability
Sternum has announced it has joined the software partner community of NXP Semiconductors, a manufacturer of and large marketplace for embedded controllers.
Story image
Schneider Electric and Claroty launch building security solution
Schneider Electric has announced the launch of Cybersecurity Solutions for Buildings, a solution designed to help buildings customers secure BMS.
Story image
IT and security team collaboration crucial to data security
Many IT and security decision makers are not collaborating as effectively as possible to address growing cyber threats.
Story image
New research shows global drive for passwordless authentication
A new study has shown there has been a significant shift towards wanting a passwordless future, but adoption is still in its infancy.
Story image
Tech job moves
Tech job moves - ActiveCampaign, Arcserve, LogRhythm & Qlik
We round up all job appointments from June 17-22, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Why is NZ lagging behind the world in cybersecurity?
A recent report by TUANZ has revealed that we are ranked 56th in the world when it comes to cybersecurity - a look into why we're so behind and what needs to be done.
Story image
QuSecure partners with DataBridge Sites to showcase platform
QuSecure has partnered with DataBridge Sites to showcase its Quantum-as-a-Service (QaaS) orchestration platform, QuProtect.