Ransomware has put Australia’s hospital cybersecurity on life support

Just as one Australian hospital recovers, another is breached—an all too common story lately.

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Another month, another Australian hospital breached by malware—and as UnitingCare Queensland fights to restore normal operations after a crippling ransomware attack, local security experts anticipate the string of high-profile hits on healthcare organisations is far from over.

The latest ransomware incidents

The expansive healthcare service—whose more than 26,000 employees and volunteers staff over 460 locations across Queensland and the Northern Territory—saw a range of key systems taken offline, and manual backup processes initiated, after a suspected ransomware strike affected sites including Brisbane’s Wesley and St Andrews War Memorial Hospitals.

Recovery from the incident is still underway, and a timeline for full operation is not yet available, according to the latest media statement on the incident, but investigative support from external technical and forensic advisors—as well as the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC)—was in place as staff fought to access key systems.

The 25 April attack came on ANZAC Day, the annual public holiday when Australia acknowledges the services of its war veterans; whether this was related to the St Andrews War Memorial’s founding “as a memorial to the service of war veterans” or whether ANZAC-themed malware might have been used to trick staff into loading the ransomware has not yet been determined.

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