Greenland says health services 'severely limited’ after cyberattack

The government of Greenland confirmed reports this week that the island's hospital system was “severely” impacted by a cyberattack. 

Government officials did not respond to requests for comment about whether it was a ransomware attack, but in a statement, explained that the healthcare system’s digital network crashed because of the incident.

They were forced to restart all IT systems and servers, meaning hospital workers cannot access any patient medical records. 

“The health service's services are therefore severely limited and increased waiting time must be expected and some will experience going in vain at agreed times. Acute inquiries will of course continue to be met and you can contact the health service by phone,” the government said in a statement translated from Danish.

“The technical analysis currently show that there has been no damage to citizens' data and that they have not been copied, but investigations into the extent of the cyber attack are still ongoing. The health service will report when operations are normalized,” the government said.

A government spokesperson told Greenland news outlet Sermitsiaq that the attack started on May 9 and may have connections to a previous attack in April based on an examination of the technical footprints left on the network. 

Government officials said there was another cyberattack on March 25 that forced Greenland’s parliament to cancel all of its meetings that week. Digital systems were crippled and the government struggled to distribute social benefit payments to citizens. Greenland has a population of about 56,000.

The government was hit by another cyberattack in December, according to Sermitsiaq. 

Healthcare organizations have been a prime target for ransomware groups and other malicious hackers in recent years. Hundreds of hospitals across the world have been attacked, with some of the largest incidents involving the healthcare systems of Ireland and New Zealand. 

The Conti ransomware group attacked Ireland’s Health Service Executive in May 2021, causing weeks of disruption at the country’s hospitals. Ireland refused to pay the $20 million ransom and now estimates it may end up spending $100 million recovering from the attack. 

Irish Minister of State Ossian Smyth said it was “possibly the most significant cybercrime attack on the Irish State.” 

The group similarly crippled dozens of hospitals in New Zealand and made a point of going after U.S. healthcare and first responder networks, including law enforcement agencies, emergency medical services, 911 dispatch centers, and municipalities within the last year, according to the FBI.

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Jonathan Greig

Jonathan Greig

is a Breaking News Reporter at Recorded Future News. Jonathan has worked across the globe as a journalist since 2014. Before moving back to New York City, he worked for news outlets in South Africa, Jordan and Cambodia. He previously covered cybersecurity at ZDNet and TechRepublic.