The Stack Archive

Thousands of NHS workers’ personal data stolen in hack

Mon 13 Mar 2017

NHS staff in Wales have been informed that their personal data was exposed in a cyberattack which saw thousands of records stolen in October last year.

It emerged that hackers had breached the UK servers of private contractor Landauer – a U.S.-based company which provides radiation safety products to various sectors including healthcare, education and national security.

The stolen information included names, dates of birth, national insurance numbers, as well as data recorded by Landauer’s medical devices.

According to reports, malware had compromised staff records ‘at most health boards in Wales,’ and particularly affected radiographers and cleaners who use the Landauer dose meter badges to monitor their exposure to radiation.

NHS Wales said that not every staff member had been affected in the same way, with different combinations of data taken from each practitioner. Those caught out by the attack included 530 employees at specialist cancer treatment centre Velindre NHS Trust, which coordinates the meter badges in Wales, and 654 staff members at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board. People working for NHS centres in England and Scotland, and for private dentists and vets have also had their personal details compromised.

NHS Wales have confirmed that no patient data was released in the attack.

Betsi Cdwaladr University Health Board stressed: ‘We have contacted all the staff affected to reassure them that Landauer has acted swiftly to secure its servers and that, since the attack, it has undertaken significant measures in connection with its UK IT network to ensure that no further information can be compromised…’

While the breach was found to have happened in October 2016, NHS Trusts were only informed in January this year, and affected staff as late as the beginning of March.

Commenting on the breach, Clwyd West politician Darren Millar said that the months-long delay in informing medical staff was ‘completely unacceptable.’ ‘This really is an astonishing data security breach…You’ve got thousands of NHS workers who’ve had their personal details compromised,’ he added.

The Welsh Government and information commissioner have been informed of the hack, and independent probes are underway.

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