Ireland’s hospitals risk being hit by the same deadly cyber-attacks hitting hospitals in other countries, a leading American cybersecurity expert has warned.
One such attack in September was being blamed for contributing to the death of a pensioner needing emergency care for an aneurysm in Düsseldorf, Germany.
She had to be diverted to another city because a ransomware attack at the hospital in Düsseldorf caused too much disruption to its IT systems for her to be treated there.
As the Irish Examiner reports, hospital IT systems in the UK and the US have also been targeted in ransomware attacks launched by malicious software used to target computers working until a fee is paid.
When asked if such attacks could happen here, US cybersecurity expert Bruce Schneier, a speaker at the recent Web Summit 2020, told the Examiner: “Unless the laws of physics are different in Ireland, yes.
“There's nothing magical about anybody's borders that makes it more or less likely.
“These attacks happen pretty much at random, to everybody who is vulnerable.
“The internet has no conception of geography.”
Mr Schneier, a fellow at the Berkman-Klein Center for Internet & Society, added: “Ireland, Japan, New Zealand are really used to having an extremely large moat, and that moat doesn't translate into cyberspace
Mr Schneier’s comments come as health systems all around the world are reporting increasing attacks by hackers.