Health Ministry says working with MCMC, Nacsa to contain patient data breach

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad said the three government bodies held a meeting earlier this morning. ― Picture by Choo Choy May
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad said the three government bodies held a meeting earlier this morning. ― Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 19 — The Health Ministry is co-operating with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) and the National Cyber Security Agency (Nacsa) in taking immediate steps to handle the recent reported leak of patients’ private information online.

Its minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad said the three government bodies held a meeting earlier this morning, after Germany-based security firm Greenbone Networks revealed on Monday that as many as 19,992 radiological studies cases in Malaysia may have been exposed.

“This matter could have happened in any health facility, including private hospitals, and medical centres in tertiary institutions,” he said in a statement.

The outcome of the meeting resulted in steps including the mapping of exposure risks in all healthcare facilities, re-evaluating exposure risks at all hospitals which utilise the Picture Archiving and Communication Systems, and the continuous improvement of security features and levels of IT infrastructure at all healthcare facilities.

“The lesson gleaned from the Greenbone Networks report and the cyberattack from across the world, has indicated we have now entered a new era of cyber threats. 

“Cyber security is a continuous challenge and requires more skill and energy to combat. The ministry will provide updates on the matter from time to time,” Dzulkefly said.

The firm’s report also revealed that patients’ medical records in 51 other countries were also leaked online, including China, Japan, Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and others.

The data includes patients’ full names, birth dates, subsequent dates of when medical check-ups were conducted. Millions of images were also leaked, such as computed tomography scans, magnetic resonance imaging scans and X-ray scans.

The United States was the most affected by the leak, with 13.7 million data sets and 45.8 million images left vulnerable. Greenbone warned in its report that such information can leave individuals the target of exploitation and identity theft, among others.

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