Medicine

United States citizen leaks data on 14200 people in Singapore with HIV

United States citizen leaks data on 14200 people in Singapore with HIV

The Health Ministry said it had begun contacting affected individuals about the incident and was working to "disable access to the information". The ministry said it then worked with "relevant parties" to disable access to the information.

"This may have led to an unauthorized person gaining possession of the data and disclosing it online", he said.

Authorities said they learned in 2016 Brochez possessed the sensitive information and raided his residence where they believed all the information had been retrieved.

His partner, who headed the ministry's National Public Health Unit from March 2012 to May 2013, had access to the confidential information, it added.

A two-person approval process to download and decrypt registry information was implemented to ensure that the data can not be accessed by a single person.

The leak comes just months after Singapore revealed the worst cyberattack in its history after hackers infiltrated the government health database. "Our former staff has been charged in court and the case is pending, and we will not hesitate to take stern action against staff who violate security guidelines, abuse their authority or abuse their access to information".

Leow Yangfa, a spokesman for LGBT charity Oogachaga, said the group was concerned people who have not disclosed their HIV status to employers, family or friends could face repercussions due to the leak.

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The records that have been leaked include those of 5,400 Singaporeans diagnosed with HIV up to January 2013, and 8,800 foreigners diagnosed up to December 2011, MOH said at a press conference at the College of Medicine Building.

Access to the information has been blocked but it is still in the possession of the person who leaked it - and could be disclosed again, the ministry warned. Although the Ministry contacted the affected individuals, the public was not informed of this discovery.

Brochez is now under Police investigation for various offences, and the authorities are seeking assistance from their foreign counterparts, said the Ministry. "We will extend whatever assistance and support that we can for them".

Remanded in Prison in June 2016, he was convicted of numerous fraud and drug-related offences in March 2017, and sentenced to 28 months' imprisonment.

In a statement, the health ministry blamed Ler for the breach, accusing him of not complying with the policies regarding the handling of confidential data.

Officials believe a 33-year-old USA citizen who lived in Singapore from 2008 is behind the leak. He also was charged under Singapore's Official Secrets Act for failing to adopt reasonable care with confidential data regarding HIV-positive patients. After Brochez was deported last May, the ministry said it learned he still had some records.

The statement did not say how Brochez obtained the data or suggest a motive for leaking it online but only that the partner was believed to have "mishandled" the information. "We are working with relevant parties to scan the Internet for signs of further disclosure of the information".


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