Cyber-Criminal attack on HSE: Information for People living with HIV
On Friday, May 14th, the HSE reported that its computer system had experienced a significant cyber-criminal attack or ‘hacking’ incident. Many of its computer systems were shut down because of the attack and a quantity of data was reported to have been accessed. Other systems, including hospital systems not directly part of the HSE network, were unaffected by the attack. The HSE is currently working with information technology experts and An Garda Síochána to determine the extent of the data breach and investigate all related criminal activity.
What to do if you are worried about the possibility of having your health details published:
- Make a plan of action; this will help you feel more in control. Think about all the possible things that could happen as a result of someone having, and using, your personal health details and make a plan for any eventuality.
- The High Court has made it a criminal offence for media outlets, social media companies and any other third party from publishing data which has been obtained as a result of the cyber-attack.
- The HSE is focused on determining which information has been accessed and doing everything it can to limit the impact of any data breach.
- If your employer or educational institution somehow becomes aware of your HIV status, it cannot result in any penalty against you.
- Speak to someone you trust: if you are worried or anxious it may help to talk to someone you trust for support. If you would like to speak, in confidence, to a member of the Community Support team at HIV Ireland please call 01 8733 799.
- Know that discrimination because of HIV status is illegal: Under Irish law, it is illegal for an employer/educational institution or any provider of goods and services to discriminate against you because of your HIV status. This includes when accessing medical care/treatment; attending education; accessing financial or other services; purchasing goods in shops and retail outlets, going to cafes, bars, restaurants, or hotels.
- Know that any organisation or third party that discloses your personal or medical information to a third party without your express consent may be guilty of an offence.
Are there any circumstances when I must disclose my HIV status?
You are not compelled to publicly disclose your HIV status to anyone. However, some official forms require you to provide a full statement on your health (such as a mortgage form, health insurance form, or medical form for a job etc.) including your current HIV status. It is important to remember that such information is protected under Ireland’s data protection laws and by the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which prohibits the sharing or disclosing of your personal information without your consent except in very limited circumstances (e.g., where requested by a court or other quasi-judicial body).
What should I do if my data is published?
If you become aware that your data has been published or is ‘out there’, call the Garda Confidential Line – 1800 666 111 or your local Garda station as soon as possible to make a report. Give as much information as possible. Your call should be dealt with in a sensitive manner and the Gardaí will advise you on what to do.
What should I do if I am contacted by phone or on-line about any of my personal information (health history, banking details, or any other personal details)?
- Do not engage with the caller or emailer and do not click on any email links.
- If someone calls you stating that they are calling from a recognised agency (your bank, HSE, Hospital, etc.) do not give them any personal information over the phone, even if the person quotes you some of your personal information. You can verify the caller (and their reason for calling you) by calling the agency back at a number given on its official website.
- If you feel you have been a victim of the cyber-criminal attack on the HSE, call the Garda Confidential Line – 1800 666 111 or your local Garda station to make a report. A directory of local Garda Stations is available here. Your call should be handled in a sensitive manner.
What should I do if I experience discrimination because of my HIV status?
If you experience any form of discrimination in employment, education, or when accessing goods and services, you can contact the Workplace Relations Commission Helpline on 1890 130 023.
If you are unsure if you have been discriminated against, you can contact ‘Your Rights’ at the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission – Call 01 858 3000 or Lo call 1 890 245545, or email YourRights@ihrec.ie
HIV Ireland’s Community Support team is available to help you during any process. Call 01-873 3799 or email firstname.lastname@example.org