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New Zealand Government Hit by Ransomware Attack on IT Provider

The New Zealand government this week confirmed being impacted by a ransomware attack on managed service provider (MSP) Mercury IT, which has disrupted businesses and public authorities in the country.

A small business with only 25 employees, Mercury IT provides cybersecurity, IT, telecoms, and support services for multiple organizations in the country.

The New Zealand government this week confirmed being impacted by a ransomware attack on managed service provider (MSP) Mercury IT, which has disrupted businesses and public authorities in the country.

A small business with only 25 employees, Mercury IT provides cybersecurity, IT, telecoms, and support services for multiple organizations in the country.

On December 1, private health insurer Accuro announced that a cyberattack on Mercury IT prevented access to core systems, saying that it had no evidence that data might have been compromised.

“For the time being, our systems remain offline which will impact services and we request your patience as we work towards a solution,” the company said.

On Tuesday, December 6, New Zealand’s privacy commissioner announced that Mercury IT suffered a ransomware attack and that it has yet to determine the number of impacted organizations. The incident was reported on November 30, the commissioner announced.

“Urgent work is underway to understand the number of organizations affected, the nature of the information involved and the extent to which any information has been copied out of the system,” the privacy commissioner noted.

Also on Tuesday, New Zealand’s health ministry Te Whatu Ora announced that the incident is preventing access to certain patient data, including roughly 8,500 records from Middlemore Hospital in Auckland and approximately 5,500 records from Cardiac Inherited Disease Registry.

“While the above records are currently inaccessible, there is no evidence at this stage that they have been subject to unauthorized access or download,” Te Whatu Ora said.

The ministry also revealed that the ransomware attack has impacted six health regulatory authorities, including the Chiropractic Board, the Dietitians Board, the New Zealand Psychologists Board, the Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians Board of New Zealand, the Podiatrists Board, and the Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand.

“This attack follows in the footsteps of other high-profile attacks against healthcare organizations, including an attack against French hospital André-Mignot that forced the organization to shut down its phone and computer systems earlier this week. Unfortunately, several other government departments, including the Ministry of Justice, fell victim to the attack as well,” AttackIQ co-founder and CTO Stephan Chenette told SecurityWeek in an emailed comment.

Related: Hackers Leak Australian Health Records on Dark Web

Related: Australia Flags New Corporate Penalties for Privacy Breaches

Related: Minister: New Zealand Enduring Wave of Cyberattacks

Written By

Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

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