Cyberattack Affects UnitingCare Network, Hospitals in Queensland

Australian community services organisation UnitingCare experienced a cyberattack on Sunday, reportedly affecting at least two hospitals in its vast network in Queensland.

The Wesley and St Andrews hospitals reportedly issued text messages to visiting medical staff at 2.20 p.m. on Monday advising them about the cybersecurity incident, The Courier Mail reported.

In a statement provided to The Epoch Times, a UnitingCare Queensland (UCQ) spokesperson said the cyber incident affected the organisation’s Digital and Technology systems, which are currently inaccessible.

Epoch Times Photo
General view of The Wesley Hospital in Brisbane, Australia on June 7, 2013. (Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

“As soon as we became aware of the incident, we engaged the support of lead external technical and forensic advisors,” the statement read.

UCQ referred to the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“Where necessary, manual back-up processes are now in place to ensure continuity of most services. Where manual processes cannot be implemented, services are being redirected or rescheduled accordingly.

“Due to the recency of the incident, it is not possible to provide a resolution timeframe at this stage, however, our Digital and Technology team are working to resolve this issue as swiftly as possible,” the statement read.

“We are committed to keeping our people, patients, clients and residents informed and safe as we work to resolve this incident and will provide further relevant updates as new information comes to hand.”

Epoch Times Photo
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk looks on at a press conference at Parliament House in Brisbane, Australia, on April 1, 2021. (Jono Searle/Getty Images)

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the cyberattack was “very concerning.”

“Hopefully, they’ll be able to work that out pretty … quickly,” she told reporters on Tuesday. “We are seeing more of those cyberattacks happening, but I’m quite sure they’ll get that under control.”

Between July 2019 and June 2020, the ASCS received one cybersecurity report every 10 minutes—or 164 each day—with some taking weeks or months to resolve.

In September last year, the ACSC published a cyber threat report that revealed cyber threats were getting worse as more home devices relied on internet connections, such as fridges, home assistants, and baby monitors.

“Malicious cyber activity against Australia’s national and economic interests is increasing in frequency, scale, and sophistication,” the ACSC Annual Cyber Threat Report stated.

Australia’s cyber adversaries are becoming more adept as the country increasingly relies on new IT platforms and interconnected devices and systems.

A number of cyber incidents were reported in March, including an attack on Western Australia’s state Parliament servers by Chinese hackers, while a cyber incident at Victoria’s Eastern Health affected elective surgeries, and Nine Entertainment reported a sophisticated cyberattack that affected the live broadcast of the Today show on March 28.

“Cybercrime is one of the most pervasive threats facing Australia, and the most significant threat in terms of overall volume and impact to individuals and businesses,” the ACSC report stated.

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Caden Pearson
Author: Caden Pearson

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