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Public invited to give feedback on SingHealth attacks

In a press release dated 11 September 2018, the Committee of Inquiry into the Cyber Attack on SingHealth called on the public to share their recommendations on tightening the healthcare provider’s cybersecurity regulations.

Summary of Events

The attacks on SingHealth’s patient database system took place on or around 27 June 2018. Close to 1.5 million patients, including the Prime Minster Lee Hsien Loong and ministers, had their personal data stolen. Another 160 000 people were also victims of stolen outpatient prescriptions. The SingHealth cyberattack was arguably the biggest data breach in Singapore.

Following the attacks, a Committee of Inquiry was set up by local authorities on 24 July 2018 to investigate reasons for the breach. Retired Senior District Judge Mr Richard R Magnus chairs the Committee. He is joined by Mr Lee Fook Sun, Mr T K Udairam and Ms Cham Hui Fong. These members represent public and private organisations.

Road to Recovery

Since then, the Committee of Inquiry has been active in bolstering public healthcare’s immunity against similar or worse attacks. OpenGov Asia has reported on interim measures such as Internet Surfing Separation, and pilot runs of the virtual browser. Under Internet Suring Separation, work computers, or computers which contain sensitive information, will not have Internet access. The virtual browser pilot grants Internet access via a set of quarantined servers, accompanied by the Advanced Threat Protection.

These safety measures are the result of the Committee’s Terms of Reference. The stipulated terms inform the proceedings of the investigation process.

The public is invited to submit written responses on the following Terms:

– Recommend measures to enhance the incident response plans for similar incidents;
– Recommend measures to better protect SingHealth’s patient database system against similar cybersecurity attacks;
– In light of the cybersecurity attack and the findings above, recommend measures to reduce the risk of such cybersecurity attacks on public sector IT systems which contain large databases of
personal data, including in the other public healthcare clusters;

Three of these correspond respectively with items 3, 4, and 5 of the seven listed terms.

Feedback Procedures

Should any member of the public be interested providing feedback, they are invited to write or email the Committee’s Secretary or co-Secretary. Contents of the feedback should include personal contact information, the author’s representing organisation (if any), any financial or other interest the author or representing organisation has in the Committee’s Terms of Reference, and an indication of willingness to appear before the Committee to supplement evidence if required.

At the Committee’s discretion, only certain authors will be called to give evidence at the hearing. A tranche of hearings will be held between 21 September to 5 October 2018 at Court 5A of the Supreme Court. Details of the hearing will be made known to the public soon. The hearing will be either a public or private one.

Prior to the hearing, the Committee may seek further clarification on the recommendations received. Moreover, the Committee reserves the right to publish any recommendation it receives.

The above exercise is strictly for the purposes of feedback collection. However, should members of the public have personal data concerns in relation to the cyber attack on SingHealth, they should direct them to the Personal Data Protection Commission. The Commission assists on matters data breaches.


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