If they were looking to embarrass me, they would've been disappointed: PM Lee on SingHealth cyberattackers

If they were looking to embarrass me, they would've been disappointed: PM Lee on SingHealth cyberattackers

PM Lee Hsien Loong announcing the RIE 2020 plan on Friday (Jan 7). (Photo: Xabryna Kek)
File photo of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. (Photo: Xabryna Kek)

SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Friday (Jul 20) he did not know what the people behind the major cyberattack on SingHealth's database were hoping to find from his medication data, but that if they were looking to embarrass him, "they would have been disappointed". 

"The attackers targeted my own medication data, specifically and repeatedly," PM Lee wrote in a Facebook post.

READ: Singapore health system hit by cyberattack; PM Lee's data targeted

"I don’t know what the attackers were hoping to find. Perhaps they were hunting for some dark state secret, or at least something to embarrass me. If so, they would have been disappointed." 

"My medication data is not something I would ordinarily tell people about, but there is nothing alarming in it," he added.

"When SingHealth digitised its medical records, they asked me whether to computerise my own personal records too or to keep mine in hardcopy for security reasons. I asked to be included. 

"Going digital would enable my doctors to treat me more effectively and in a timely manner. I was confident that SingHealth would do their best to protect my patient information, just as it did for all their other patients in the database." 

Mr Lee said he knew there was a risk that the database might be compromised and that it was unfortunate that it has now happened. 

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong also revealed that his non-medical personal particulars with SingHealth had been stolen. 

"Cyber theft is a key risk when going digital. But we cannot stop the digital advance and must strive to build the most secure Smart Nation," he said in a Facebook post.


In his post, Mr Lee said he has asked the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) and Smart Nation and Digital Government Group (SNDGG) to work together with the health ministry to "tighten up their defences and processes across the board". 

He also expressed his confidence that the Committee of Inquiry convened to look into the incident would "doubtless have valuable conclusions and recommendations, which will help us do better".  

"This will be a ceaseless effort," he said. "Those trying to break into our data systems are extremely skilled and determined. They have huge resources and never give up trying."

Mr Lee said that Government systems come under attack "thousands of times a day" and the goal has to be to prevent these attacks from succeeding. 

"If we discover a breach, we must promptly put it right, improve our systems and inform the people affected," he said.

READ: SingHealth will notify patients affected by cyberattack; Govt to order Committee of Inquiry

"This is what we are doing in this case. We cannot go back to paper records and files. We have to go forward, to build a secure and smart nation." 

Mr Lee's Facebook post came after the conclusion of a press conference announcing the incident. 

During the media address attended by Communications and Information Minister S Iswaran and Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, it was revealed that 1.5 million patients had their non-medical records – including name, NRIC, address and date of birth – illegally accessed and copied in the cyberattack. Of this group, about 160,000 patients had their medicine records leaked.

The attackers, however, "specifically and repeatedly" targeted Mr Lee's personal particulars and information on his outpatient dispensed medicines, said SingHealth. 

A probe showed it was a "deliberate, targeted and well-planned cyberattack" that was "not the work of casual hackers or criminal gangs", SingHealth said. 

Source: CNA/hs(hm)