On November 1, public hospitals and polyclinics in Singapore experienced web service outages caused by a Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attack, according to the national healthcare IT provider Synapxe.

A DDoS attack is a malicious attempt to disrupt the normal traffic of a targeted server, service or network by overwhelming the target or its surrounding infrastructure with a flood of Internet traffic1. DDoS attacks are carried out with networks of Internet-connected machines, such as computers and IoT devices, that have been infected with malware and controlled remotely by an attacker1. A DDoS attack can cause a site or service to become slow or unavailable, and it can be difficult to separate the attack traffic from the normal traffic1. There are different types of DDoS attacks, such as application layer attacks, network layer attacks, and advanced persistent DoS attacks, that target varying components of a network connection.

These attacks are ongoing, leading to occasional disruptions in internet services. Synapxe is actively defending against these attacks and cooperating with relevant parties to expedite the recovery process. Investigations by Synapxe and the Cyber Security Agency (CSA) are also underway, with no ransom demands reported in connection to the attack.

Synapxe has implemented a “layered defense” strategy, which includes system backups, services to block abnormal surges in internet traffic, and firewalls. However, an abnormal surge in network traffic bypassed these defenses and overwhelmed the firewall, rendering websites and internet-dependent services inaccessible. Once the cause was identified, Synapxe worked with service providers to combat the attack, gradually restoring web services from 4.30 pm on the same day.

Fortunately, the DDoS attack did not compromise healthcare data, internal networks, or patient care. During the outage, patient records remained accessible, and clinical services were not affected. This incident serves as a reminder that DDoS attacks are increasing in frequency and evolving in methods. It highlights the need for ongoing development in defenses against such attacks to keep up with advancements.

Source Straits Times

By Harry