State government's $46m cybersecurity fund fails regional hospitals

Health Minister Jenny Mikakos.
Health Minister Jenny Mikakos.

The state government has revealed it spent $46 million to prevent cyber attacks on hospitals, but it did not stop the one that has crippled Victoria's south-west hospitals for nearly six weeks.

The revelation followed questions from the opposition's health spokeswoman Georgie Crozier to Health Minister Jenny Mikakos in parliament on Wednesday after The Standard published a story on Tuesday about the attack.

Portland District Health (PDH) health informatics director Clair Holt said the state government knew public hospital security systems were vulnerable to hackers months before it happened.

"It's not that we knew it was going to happen, but it was a case of being lucky that it hadn't happened yet," she said.

"After seeing the VAGO report we made recommendations to the Department of Health that we needed financial assistance to ensure our systems were adequate, and they hadn't been forthcoming in that time. All that's been indicated by the state government is that there will be a full, independent investigation."

Ms Crozier asked Ms Mikakos: "Why was that request on such a serious issue denied by your department?"

Ms Mikakos responded that the department had provided $46 million dedicated to hospital cyber upgrades.

"We have experienced very challenging circumstances, it's an international issue with hospitals affected in the US, Canada, and in fact we have taken action, there has been considerable action," she said.

"If you look to the VAGO report, it does acknowledge that the Department of Health and Human Services has done good work around these issues

"There's been a lot of work underway both before that report and since. Many of those recommendations in that report will be completed in the following months."

Ms Mikakos did not answer why additional funding was not supplied to PDH to bolster its security systems, but said the hospital received $28.9 million this financial year.

This story Hospitals hacked despite $46m investment into cybersecurity first appeared on The Standard.