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Hospital cyber attack: Auditor-General warned Barwon Health was vulnerable to hacking in May

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Yesterday, a ransomware attack on regional hospitals downed computer systems at health service providers across the state.

The story broke on The Rumour File, and details of the scale of the problem emerged on Neil Mitchell’s program, with hospitals in Geelong, Warrnambool, Colac, Warragul, Sale and Bairnsdale among those affected.

In May, the Victorian Auditor-General warned there were serious cyber security weaknesses at some Victorian health services which made them vulnerable to hacking.

At the time, the Auditor-General hacked into several health service systems, including Barwon Health, to illustrate how easy it was to breach their security.

Barwon Health, one of the services the Auditor-General hacked into, was one of those affected by the hacking yesterday.

Barwon Health CEO Frances Diver said the Auditor-General made 14 recommendations to the organisation in May, but couldn’t say how many had been implemented.

“I couldn’t tell you exactly,” she told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell.

“There’s a huge amount of work that’s been undertaken.”

Ms Diver admitted she doesn’t know how long Barwon Health systems will be offline.

“I’m waiting for the cyber security experts to tell us that,” she said.

But most of Barwon Health’s usual services are running, with a small number of surgeries cancelled.

“Our emergency department is fully operational, our surgeries are going ahead, and, in fact, most of our services are able to be provided,” she said.

“Certainly, today, we are in a better state than we were in yesterday.”

Yesterday, 16 elective surgeries were cancelled, and today 11 elective surgeries have been postponed, with 90 surgeries set to go ahead as planned.

Ms Diver said there is no evidence that patient privacy was compromised as a result of the cyber attack.

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Hospital cyber attack: Hackers target hospitals across Victoria