February 20, 2019

Singapore HIV registry: Personal data of 14000 people leaked online

ISLAMABAD: As the world celebrated the data privacy day on January 28, the latest incident of online data leak in Singapore is a reminder of the vulnerabilities pertaining to people’s personal data. 

According to multiple media reports, confidential data of 14200 HIV positive patients from Singapore’s HIV registry was leaked online.  The leaked data included patient names, identification numbers, contact numbers, addresses, HIV results and a medical information.

The latest data leak not only affected the locals but also the foreigners. Personal information of 5400 Singaporeans before 2013 and 8800 foreigners before 2011 was exposed.

Immediately after the incident, the authorities said that they had contacted all the Singaporean residents affected by the leak and had set up a hotline for offering counseling and support.

The latest data breach happened months after a massive cyber attack  in Singapore exposed the data of 1.5 million people, including the data of Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Under the Singapore’s Official Secrets Act, any person found guilty of the wrongful possession, communication or use of confidential data can be sentenced to imprisonment up to two years and fined up to US$ 1500.

How did the data leak happen?

CNN reported that the data was leaked online by an American citizen named Mikhy K Farrera Brochez who was living in Singapore until May 2018.  Mr Brochez was deported from Singapore after serving 28 months prison sentence for drug and fraud related charges. He was also found guilty of concealing his HIV positive results.

Until, 2015, foreigners with HIV were barred from entering the country even as tourists. Now, anyone who wishes to stay beyond 90 days including for work, has to go through medical screening to ensure that they do not have HIV.

It is believed that Mr. Brocheez concealed his HIV positive results with the help of his partner named Ler Teck Siang, a former official of Ministry of health currently serving a 24-months prison sentence.

Reportedly Brochez also got hold of the data from HIV registry  through Mr. Siang.

After the scandal was unveiled in 2016, raids were conducted at the two men’s house and reportedly police had also seized the HIV registry data. However, it was not until January 22,  the authorities realized that  he still possessed some of the data.

 

 

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