Health Bureau claims to have been the target of a cyber-attack

The Health Bureau (SS) has stated that its online system was the target of a cyber-attack yesterday, with the attack resulting in the intermittent interruption of the network service that guarantees the supply of masks to local residents.

In order to assure the supply of health masks to the local population due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Macau government has purchased 20 million masks and set a buying scheme for local residents.

Since last week, people holding permanent or non-permanent resident identity card or non-resident worker’s identification card (commonly known as the blue card) may register and purchase at 56 contracted pharmacies in Macau, with each individual allowed to purchase 10 masks – at MOP8 each pack – every 10 days.

In order to assure that people do not purchase more than the allowed amount of masks an online system as put into place to register and verify ID numbers, to be used by the contracted pharmacies.

However, the purchase of masks was not available in several pharmacies yesterday due to the system being down or having operating issues.

According to health authorities, hackers used denial-of-service attacks (DDoS), a cyber-attack tool aimed at making a network resource unavailable to its intended users by temporarily or indefinitely disrupting services of a host connected to the Internet, to target the system.

‘In cooperation with Internet service providers, related services have been successfully intercepted and restored. At present, the epidemic situation of new coronavirus infection is serious and poses a major threat to public health security in Macau,’

‘The criminals used cyber attack methods to seriously interfere with the orderly progress of the anti-epidemic work […] For this reason, the Health Bureau has notified the Judiciary Police to follow up this matter’

In addition, the SS stated that the masks purchased through the system put in place with local pharmacies and health centers that have agreed to supply the masks are qualified products purchased with the assistance of the Chinese government and have the required virus filtration and surface moisture resistance capabilities.

More than 2.3 million government masks were said to have been sold so far, with more than 230,000 people having purchased masks.

‘If the public finds that the masks supplied by the Health Bureau have quality problems, they can bring the same masks to the health center to replace the same number of masks,’ it was added.

In order to ensure the quality of masks, the Health Bureau will also carry out spot checks and rechecks on masks, and require agreement pharmacies to make final checks before selling masks to ensure that citizens buy masks that meet protective specifications.

The number of masks in stock at the pharmacies was also said to be sufficient for sale, and some pharmacies may suspend sales due to the time required for repacking masks.