South African private hospitals hit by cyberattack

Private healthcare group Life Healthcare has announced that its South African business has been hit by a criminal cyberattack.

“Life Healthcare Group, a leading international healthcare organisation, regrets to announce that its southern African operation has been the victim of a targeted criminal attack on its IT systems,” the company said.

“We acted immediately on becoming aware of the incident and took our systems offline, in order to actively contain the attack.”

The extent to which sensitive data has been compromised due to this attack is currently unknown, and Life Healthcare said an investigation into the cyberattack is currently underway.

The company added that patient care was not impacted by the hack and its hospitals continue to provide healthcare services as normal, despite some administrative delays.

“The security incident has affected admissions systems, business processing systems, and email servers,” Life Healthcare said.

“We immediately took these offline as a precautionary measure to contain the attack, conduct our investigations, and where necessary commence remediation.”

Core systems unaffected

The company apologised for any distress this cyberattack has caused its patients, staff, and stakeholders.

“First, and foremost, we wish to assure all the communities within which we operate, that this criminal attack on our systems will not affect the quality care and clinical excellence we aim to provide. Patient care remains our key priority,” said Life Healthcare acting group CEO Pieter van der Westhuizen.

“We are deeply disappointed and saddened that criminals would attack our facilities during such a time when we are all working tirelessly and collectively to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.”

He added that the company would not be distracted by this incident and would continue to focus on providing its patients with the best healthcare possible.

“We regret that the disruption caused by this criminal act may cause our patients some frustration, in what is already a trying time. We recognise and thank our employees, doctors and service providers for their dedication, and the professionalism they have shown by quickly adopting our manual backup systems,” Van der Westhuizen said.

“Our investigations continue and we are working around-the-clock to restore the affected systems.”

Now read: More than 50,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in South Africa

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South African private hospitals hit by cyberattack