The Health Ministry of Brazil has announced that hackers attacked its official website, and deleted data on vaccination drive. In a statement, the ministry said that one of the hackers took several systems down, including one that contained information about the national immunization program, and a second one used to issue digital vaccination certificates by the ministry. The incident prompted the government to put off implementing new health requirements for foreign travelers arriving in Brazil for the next seven days.
According to the statement, "In the early hours of Friday, the Health Ministry suffered an incident that temporarily compromised some of its systems... which are currently unavailable." Meanwhile, the police are investigating the case. The hackers, calling themselves 'Lapsus$ Group', also posted a message on the Ministry website, saying that they copied internal data before deleting them. "Contact us if you want the data back," they wrote on the website, along with their e-mail IDs and Telegram contacts. Although they removed the message in the afternoon, the webpage was still down. Also, there was no user data in the ConectSUS app.
Meanwhile, the ministry is trying hard to restore its systems, with health minister Marcelo Queiroga assuring people that no data would be lost. The minister informed the press that the ministry used to maintain copies of all the information. For his part, deputy health minister Rodrigo Cruz said that the access to the vaccination data had not been recovered, and it would be too early to say whether the data had been lost. He admitted that the hackers deleted more than 50 terabytes of data.
Earlier this week, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro opposed the use of a vaccine passport, making it clear that unvaccinated travelers would have to quarantine themselves for five days upon their arrival in the country. Later on, they would be tested for COVID-19. The procedure was due to start on Saturday.
However, the government has postponed it for a week, as vaccination data is not accessible on-line following the cyber-attack. "As a precaution, we'll publish an ordinance today postponing by a seven day the implementation of the new rules that would take forte tomorrow," stressed Cruz. Surprisingly, the COVID-19 tracing forms for arriving foreign passengers are still available on website, as the hackers did not target them.