SingHealth cyber-attack is said to be made by state-linked group. (Photo: EPA/VNA)

Singapore (VNA) – Singapore’s worst cyber-attack in its history, in which personal information of about 1.5 million people, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, was stolen, has the hallmarks of a state-linked group, said Singaporean Minister for Communications and Information S.Iswaran.

Speaking in parliament, S.Iswaran said that detailed analysis has found that the attack was the work of an “Advanced Persistent Threat” (APT) group, which is typically state-linked.

It was referred to a class of sophisticated cyber attackers who carefully planned cyber campaigns to steal information or disrupt operations, he said, adding that APT groups often use advanced tools, including customised malware that is able to evade the health care provider’s antivirus software and security tools.

“The attack fits the profile of a certain known APT group, but for national security reasons, we will not be making any specific public attribution”, the minister said.

He pledged to do his utmost to strengthen the cyber-security defences, yet saying that another attack is likely to take place. However, it could not hamper Singapore’s efforts to become a “smart country” applying advanced technologies in daily activities and transactions.

The SingHealth cyber-attack occurred from June 27 to July 4, and specifically and repeatedly targeted the health records of Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. In the process, the personal particulars of 1.5 million patients were accessed and copied.

Health care data is hackers’ special interest as it can be used to blackmail people, said Jeff Middleton, chief executive of cyber-security consultancy Lantium.

Meanwhile, Sanjay Aurora, Asia Pacific managing director of Daktrace, a cyber-security firm, said that medical information can be easily monetised on criminal forums.-VNA