Life Healthcare Group hacked amid COVID-19 fight

In a statement, the healthcare organisation said it was still investigating the extent to which sensitive data has been compromised.

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JOHANNESBURG - Life Healthcare Group said its southern African operation had been the victim of a targeted criminal attack on its IT systems.

In a statement on Tuesday morning, the healthcare organisation - which is the second-largest private hospital operator in South Africa - said it was still investigating the extent to which sensitive data had been compromised.

“We acted immediately on becoming aware of the incident and took our systems offline, in order to actively contain the attack. External cybersecurity experts and forensic teams have been brought on board to advise and supplement our internal teams and capacity. We have alerted the relevant authorities and investigations are under way.”

The healthcare group said while patient care has not been affected, the breach had affected admissions systems, business processing systems and email servers.

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

Pieter van der Westhuizen, acting group CEO, said: “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. 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. However, we will not be distracted, and will continue to place our patients first."