Private hospital group hit by cyberattack in South Africa

Life Healthcare Group says that its IT systems in its southern African operation have been the victim of a targeted criminal attack.

In a statement on Tuesday (9 June), the group said that it acted immediately on becoming aware of the incident and took it systems offline, to actively contain the attack.

“The extent to which sensitive data has been compromised is yet to be ascertained, as we are still in the process of investigating. External cyber security experts and forensic teams have been brought on board to advise and supplement our internal teams and capacity,” Life Healthcare said.

“We have alerted the relevant authorities and investigations are underway.”

The group said that patient care has not been impacted and that it will continue to provide quality healthcare across all of its hospitals and clinics, with patient care continuing to be our foremost priority.

“In line with our business continuity plans, our hospitals and administrative offices have switched over to backup manual processing systems and continue to function, albeit and regrettably, with some administrative delays.

“The security incident has affected admissions systems, business processing systems and email servers. We immediately took these offline as a precautionary measure to contain the attack, conduct our investigations, and where necessary commence remediation.

“We apologise for any frustration, delay, or distress this criminal act has caused to our patients, doctors, employees, funders and other stakeholders. We thank them for their understanding, support and patience as we resolve this matter.”

Pieter Van der Westhuizen, acting group chief executive officer, said that this criminal attack on the group’s systems will not affect the quality care and clinical excellence it aims to provide.

“We regret that the disruption caused by this criminal act may cause our patients some frustration, in what is already a trying time.

“We recognise and thank our employees, doctors and service providers for their dedication, and the professionalism they have shown by quickly adopting our manual backup systems. Our investigations continue and we are working around-the-clock to restore the affected systems,” it said.

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Private hospital group hit by cyberattack in South Africa