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Waikato Hospitals Manage Recovery from Virus Attack

While performing a routine system upgrade, the Waikato District Health Board (New Zealand) was hit by a computer virus on December 17, 2009 that compelled the board to shutdown its entire network.

More specifically, two samples of the Conficker worm attacked the Waikato DHB. Consequently, the hospital staff instantly closed approximately 3,000 PCs.

Alan Hesketh, Depute Director General of Health Information Directorate, the Ministry of Health, stated that the worm was understandably an element of malicious software across the entire digital environment, as reported by TOPNEWS on December 21, 2009.

In the meantime, some media reports state that the Waikato DHB IT system was undergoing a wide-scale upgrade when the Conficker worm infiltrated it.

Alan Grainer, Chief Information Officer at DHB, stated that in spite of an up-to-date and well patched system at the DHB, the board's computer network was struck by the A and D variants of the Conficker worm, as reported by Waikato Times on December 21, 2009.

However, the computer systems of the remaining health-boards didn't report of any virus infection. This gave much relieve to the organization. The time when the virus attacked coincided with the period before Christmas when people were finishing up their online tasks, making the situation somewhat manageable.

But Ralph van Dalen, Head of General Surgery at Waikato DHB, states that in some cases, patients' histories and notes were missing that took time to sort out and bring the situation under control, as reported by Waikato Times on December 21, 2009.

On December 21, 2009, the Waikato Hospital's emergency departments and wards were all back online and so were emergency departments at the Te Kuiti, the Thames, Tokoroa, and Taumarunui hospitals.

The board had put the structure for emergency management in place. In addition, it would conduct a detailed analysis of the cause of the attack. Both, according to the board, would help to find out what went missing or failed to occur and what preventions could be adopted for the future. However, it wasn't evident as to how long it would take to complete the analysis.

Related article: West Berkshire Warns People against Tax Refund phishing Scam

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