Malaysia's Ministry of Health (MOH) does not expect Malaysian hospitals to experience major IT issues due to the global "ransomware" attack, which has been crippling England's health service, as the country does not have such a database system.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said the ministry was also informed that the government was improving the special control system that dealt with such cyber security threats.

"At the moment, the ransomware attack probably will not have a major impact on our country because we still do not have a national integrated health database system, only separate ones," he said.

A risk for future integrated national health database

"However, we are certainly in the course of integrating it, and when it happens, this is one of the risks. This is because if one place is affected, it is possible it can damage the system in the whole country," he added.

The MOH assured that doctors and patients alike, need not worry about the ransomware attack especially when the database system has not been integrated yet in the country.

"Every hospital in the country has their own system, even if affected by a cyber attack only the particular hospital will be affected and not the whole country," said Dr Subramaniam.

The MOH system is also managed by the Modernisation and management Planning Unit (MAMPU). The Ministry of Communications and Multimedia has also been overlooking the cyber security in the country.

Future cyberattacks to be expected, precautions to be taken

However, Malaysia's cyber security agency has issued a national alert as the country has emerged as one of 150 nations to be potentially hit by the massive global cyberattack of "WanaCrypt0r 2.0" ransomware.

"We urge system administrators to patch their systems as soon as possible and keep their users aware of the new ransomeware in order to prevent them from opening suspicious emails and files," said chief executive officer Datuk Dr Amirudin Abdul Wahab of CyberSecurity Malaysia, an agency under the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry.

CyberSecurity said ransomware could lead to temporary or permanent loss of sensitive or proprietary information, disruption to regular operations, financial losses and potential harm to an organisation's reputation. It also advised Internet users to back up their data regularly, maintain an up-to-date anti-virus operating system and not to click on unsolicited email attachments.

The agency says it is currently monitoring the situation in Malaysia and will take any necessary action by providing technical assistance to all affected organisations and individual users on remediation and prevention.

As of 10am on 13 May, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) said no attacks have been reported, but also urged Internet users to take precautions. The cyber authorities however are bracing for a second attack and have said that "humans are the weakest link".

"We are afraid people will continue clicking on links or opening emails that will allow the virus to hit us here," an insider said. MIMS

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