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Helsinki-Uusimaa health services website faces more disruption, possibly from Russian hackers

The disruption, which recurred on Sunday, may have been caused by Russian hackers, according to the hospital group's IT director.

Kaksi eläkeläistä tutkii sivustoa.
The HUS website was inaccessible on Saturday afternoon (file photo). Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle
Yle News

Russian hackers may be to blame for problems with the website of the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District (HUS), which was offline for most of Saturday and intermittently on Sunday.

The site was restored to normal service around 11.30 pm Saturday, but HUS reported sporadic problems on Sunday as well.

The problems were due to an external attack, according to Risto Laakkonen, ICT Production Director at HUS, which is Finland's largest healthcare provider.

A Russian hacker group claimed to have targeted HUS and other hospital districts in western countries with denial-of-service attacks.

The causes of the problems will be analysed in more detail next week, Laakkonen told Yle.

The website briefly began working again shortly after 4 pm on Saturday, but the disruption continued a little later.

On Saturday the Russian hacker group KillMilk said on its Telegram channel that it would target healthcare facilities in various Western countries with denial-of-service attacks.

Last year a group of Russian hackers claimed responsibility for denial-of-service attacks on Finnish public-sector websites.

Finland's largest healthcare provider

HUS includes five hospital areas: Helsinki University Hospital, Hyvinkää, Lohja, Porvoo, and West Uusimaa. It is Finland's largest healthcare provider and the country's second largest employer. The Uusimaa region is home to nearly one third of Finland's population.

On Saturday evening, the site offer a text-only webpage with the following message in Finnish, Swedish and English: "Our website is currently down for maintenance due to technical problems. Sorry for the inconvenience. We are working on solutions to fix the problems.

It listed the following important phone numbers for residents seeking assistance:

Medical helpline 116 117

Poison Information Centre 0800 147 111

Switchboard 09 4711

Maternity wards:

Women’s hospital 09 471 73488

Espoo hospital 09 471 82111

Hyvinkää hospital 050 4275 328

Lohja hospital 019 380 1424

18.47: Updated with information about hackers.

10.17: Updated with resumption of service.

12.24: Updated with Laakkonen comments.

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