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Health Bureau’s IT system ‘maliciously attacked’ again

2021-05-10 03:39     Comment:0

The Health Bureau’s (SSM) IT system was “maliciously” attacked “repeatedly” on two days late last week, affecting the normal functioning of its various systems such as the Macau Health Code system, COVID-19 vaccination booking system and nucleic acid testing (NAT) appointment system.

The cyberattacks began on Friday morning and were still going on by Saturday evening.

An SSM statement on Saturday night said that “the repeated and malicious cyberattacks on the two consecutive days were deliberately targeting the bureau with the aim of adversely affecting the bureau’s fight against COVID-19 and its services provided to the public”.

The Health Bureau has transferred the case to the Judiciary Police (PJ) for investigation. The bureau has strongly condemned the cyberattacks.

During the two days, every time the Health Bureau’s IT system was attacked; it carried out emergency repairs in collaboration with telecom operator CTM before the system returned to normal.

According to local media reports, on Friday and Saturday, intermittently, some travellers crossing the Macau-mainland border could not generate their Macau Health Code or were unable to convert their Macau Health Code into the Guangdong Health Code.

The Health Bureau’s IT system was first “maliciously” attacked at around 10:30 a.m. on Friday, affecting the normal functioning of the Macau Health Code system, COVID-19 vaccination booking system, NAT appointment system and health voucher system, according to an SSM statement on Friday morning, which said that after emergency repairs by the Health Bureau and CTM, the operations of the vaccination booking system and the health code system resumed to normal at around 11 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. respectively, shortly after which the operations of the other systems also resumed to normal.

However, the Macau Health Code system was attacked again at around 3:30 p.m. on Friday, but this time the operation of the system was not affected thanks to a standby system, according to an SSM statement on Friday afternoon.

The operation of the Macau Health Code system was suspended for about 15 minutes on Saturday morning “due to unstable technical issues” as the Health Bureau had modified the system in response to the malicious cyberattacks, according to an SSM statement on Saturday morning.

Saturday night’s SSM statement said that the Health Bureau’s IT system was “maliciously attacked again” at around 5 p.m. that day, affecting the normal functioning of the Macau Health Code system, COVID-19 vaccination booking system and NAT appointment system. Their operations had resumed to normal after emergency repairs by the Health Bureau and CTM.

“On the two consecutive days, the Health Bureau’s IT system was maliciously attacked repeatedly, and the cyberattacks were even carried out on webpages that had not been attacked previously,” Saturday night’s SSM statement said.

“This obviously indicated that the cyberattacks were carried out with some specific purposes deliberately targeting the bureau with the aim of adversely affecting the bureau’s fight against COVID-19 and its services provided to the public,” the statement said.


Public Security Police (PSP) officers help travellers convert their Macau Health Code to the Guangdong Health Code on their smartphones at the Barrier Gate border checkpoint on Saturday. Photo: PSP

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