South African private hospital systems still down after cyberattack

The IT systems of Life Healthcare Group have not yet fully recovered following a cyber attack on the group of hospitals two weeks ago.

A patient at the Fourways Life Healthcare hospital has told MyBroadband that the facility does not currently have Internet access. Staff at the hospital explained this was due to a cyber attack.

X-rays could also not be sent from the radiology department to the emergency room. Doctors had to walk between departments to physically fetch x-rays.

A spokesperson for the Life Healthcare Group told MyBroadband that the situation at Life Healthcare hospitals is not due to a fresh cyber attack.

“There has been no further cyber attack since [the] public announcement on 9 June,” the spokesperson said.

“Our hospitals are still having to implement manual processes as we work on safely restoring our systems.”

Life Healthcare Group said that when it detected the attack, it immediately took its systems offline to actively contain it. Admissions systems, business processing systems, and email servers were affected.

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

An investigation into the attack is currently underway, including the extent to which sensitive data may have been compromised.

While the group may have decided to take its IT systems offline, it said that patient care was not impacted and hospitals continue to provide healthcare services as normal, despite some administrative delays.

Core systems unaffected

“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.”

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South African private hospital systems still down after cyberattack