inside an empty operating theatre with all the electronic bells and whistles
The cyber attack brought surgeries to a holt!

Today, we’re diving into a cyber saga that, in 2021, made waves in the digital world. We’re discussing the Waikato District Health Board (DHB) Ransomware Attack. Now, don’t let the techy title intimidate you. This story is brimming with lessons on cyber safety, cyber security, and cyber risk that every female entrepreneur should know. So grab your favourite cuppa and let’s break down this cyber chronicle.

The Digital Drama Begins: A Quick Recap of the Waikato DHB Ransomware Attack

Picture this: It’s an ordinary day at the office, and suddenly, some sneaky hackers lock up all your precious data. They demand a ransom to give it back. Sounds like a scene from a cheesy movie. That’s precisely what happened to the Waikato District Health Board (DHB) in New Zealand in May 2021.

The hackers used a type of cyber threat called ransomware to take control of the DHB’s computer systems. It caused chaos, disrupted services, and even affected patient care. Here’s the play-by-play of how it went down:

Act 1: The Cyber Security Attack Begins

The DHB’s computer systems were infected with ransomware, which locked up their files and made them inaccessible. It’s like when your BFF borrows your favourite dress without asking and refuses to return it until you pay up. Rude!

Act 2: The Hackers Make Their Demands

These digital delinquents demanded a ransom to unlock the DHB’s data. They even leaked some sensitive information online to show they meant business. Talk about playing dirty!

Act 3: The Aftermath: Hospital Havoc and Patient Pandemonium

The DHB had to shut down many of its systems and rely on good ol’ pen and paper to keep things running. It took weeks for the DHB to recover from the attack.

This cyber showdown had significant consequences for the DHB, causing chaos in their services. Here’s the lowdown:

  • Surgeries and appointments went haywire: Non-urgent surgeries and outpatient appointments were postponed or cancelled. Yikes!
  •  Emergency patients played hospital hopscotch: With IT systems down, patients had to bounce to nearby hospitals for urgent care.
  •  Accessing patient records became a Herculean task: Healthcare providers struggled to access patient records, making proper care super challenging.
  •  Payroll was also on the blitz, so employees couldn’t be paid wages.

It took weeks for the DHB to recover from the attack.

The Plot Thickens: A Deeper Dive into the Ransomware Attack

Now that we’ve set the stage let’s take a closer look at the details of the Waikato DHB ransomware attack. We’ll explore how it happened, what went wrong, and how it could have been prevented.

The Villains: Who Was Behind the Attack?

It is believed the culprits behind the Waikato DHB attack were a group of Russian cybercriminals known for developing the conti ransomware. They’re notorious for their ruthless ransomware attacks on organizations worldwide. These digital bandits are all about making money and don’t care who they hurt.

The Victim’s Mistake: What Went Wrong with the Waikato DHB’s Cyber Security?

There’s no denying that the Waikato DHB was caught off guard by the ransomware attack. But how did it happen? Like any good mystery, several clues point to what went wrong. Some possible factors include:

  1. Outdated software: Using obsolete software is like leaving your front door unlocked. It makes it easy for hackers to waltz right in. Waikato DHB may have needed to keep their software up-to-date, creating vulnerabilities the hackers exploited.
  2.  Lax security practices: Good cybersecurity is all about dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s. If Waikato DHB didn’t have strong password policies or employee training, it could have left them open to attacks like this.
  3.  Lack of backups: Regular data backups are like a safety net for your digital empire. Waikato DHB needed adequate backups to make it much easier to recover from the attack.
  4.  Lack of Employee training and awareness: Ensuring staff are aware of common cyber threats and best practices in cybersecurity can help prevent successful attacks.

The Unsung Heroes: How Other Organizations Can Learn from Waikato DHB’s Mistakes

The Waikato DHB ransomware attack is a cautionary tale for all organizations, including female entrepreneurs like us. So, what can we learn from their mistakes to protect our businesses? Here are some cyber safety tips to keep in mind:

  1. Keep software up-to-date: Make sure you’re always using the latest versions of your software. This includes your operating system, antivirus programs, and other essential applications. Remember, updates often include vital security patches that help keep hackers at bay.
  2.  Implement strong security practices: Ensure you have robust password policies, and train your employees on cyber safety best practices. This includes teaching them how to spot phishing emails, avoid clicking on suspicious links, and more.
  3.  Regularly back up your data: Set up automatic backups for your data on an external hard drive or in the cloud. That way, if your data ever gets locked up by ransomware, you’ll have a backup plan.
  4.  Invest in professional help: If you need clarification on your cybersecurity measures, please call the pros. Hiring a cybersecurity expert can help protect your business from cyber risks.

Lessons Learned: How Female Entrepreneurs Can Stay Safe Online

The Waikato DHB ransomware attack is a wake-up call for all online businesses. Cyber safety is not something to be taken lightly.

Investing in cyber awareness training is one of the most effective ways to protect yourself and your online business. This type of training empowers you to:

  • Recognize potential cyber risks;
  •  Understand best practices for cyber security and cyber safety;
  •  Respond effectively to incidents.

Staying informed can significantly reduce the likelihood of falling victim to a cyber attack. In a world where cyber threats constantly evolve, staying educated and vigilant is your best line of defence.

Remember, knowledge is power, especially when it comes to cyber security.

Becky Duncan