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"Foreign" denial-of-service attacks shut down social insurance sites

Online services from Finland's national social insurance agency Kela have been knocked out by targeted web attacks this weekend. The agency insists that the electronic prescription system could withstand even a complete national IT shutdown.

Tietokoneen näppäimistö.
Kela said that the attacks appeared to be over on Saturday afternoon. Image: Yle

The Social Insurance Institution (Kela) has been hit by a series of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks that crashed some of its online services on Friday and Saturday. Kela says it will provide more information as it becomes available. The state social services agency suffered disruptions for two and a half hours on Friday evening and for about four hours on Saturday.

Kela says it believes the attacks have come from abroad.

The targeted disruptions prevented customers from accessing the, Omakanta and Kelain online services, so for instances patients could not access their electronic prescriptions.

However Kela says that the attacks have not affected the operations of Finland's pharmacies except for a few small independent ones that lack permanent broadband data links to Kela.

"National shutdown wouldn't stop pharmacies"

Eeva Huotarinen, development director of Kela's Kanta service, tells Yle that access to medications from Finnish pharmacies would not be halted even if Finland was subject to a total national telecommunications  interruption. She adds that no-one's data security was threatened by these attacks.

Kela and its telecoms operator will maintain heightened monitoring of the functionality of the Kanta services throughout the weekend and for at least the next few weeks.

Kela's Kanta services were also crippled by several days of DDoS attacks last autumn. Since then most Finnish pharmacies have switched to a secure direct corporate network for e-prescriptions and other operations.

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