What does the cyber security attack on the HSE mean for community pharmacy?
The ransomware attack on the Health Service Executive’s IT systems in the early hours of 14th May has been described as the ‘most significant cybercrime attack on the State.”
This kind of attack is an attempt to lock the owner out of their own systems in order to steal data and then try to exert a ransom, and/ or publish the data on the internet.
Pharmacy systems are also vulnerable to this kind of attack, and should you be the unfortunate recipient of such a scheme and do not have enhance Anti Virus measures in place there is often very little you can do to retrieve your vital patient data. Although we are your Pharmacy IT systems partner, you are responsible to ensure that all the IT systems operating in your business are done so in as safe a way as possible. We can help, advise and recommend steps that you should take to minimise the risk but ultimately the responsibility vests in you.
As a bare minimum, we recommend that all pharmacies have a robust firewall, a proven back-up system and have upgraded their hardware from obsolete and out-of-date Windows 7 machines, which have passed their end of life and are supported – at an additional cost by you – in a very limited way.
We recently contacted all our customers who were still relying on Windows 7 systems to run their business and look after their patient data, and are happy to give further information to those wishing to upgrade to Windows 10.
One of the single biggest risks to your business is your staff, and how they use the IT in the pharmacy.
Your business is at risk if you
- use a ‘free’ email account
- access other websites on your MPS system
- have the same password for all systems and staff
- fail to regularly change these passwords
- fail to train your staff on how to recognise cyber attacks
We will be sending out further information and advice on improving the cyber security of your pharmacy, and advising of the steps that we are taking as your IT business partner to help strengthen your pharmacy systems but if you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact us on ‘[email protected]’