8 Dec 2023

Te Whatu Ora employs international experts to investigate Covid-19 vaccine data leak

4:33 pm on 8 December 2023
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Te Whatu Ora chief executive Margie Apa. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Te Whatu Ora has brought in international cyber security and forensic experts to help investigate the massive Covid-19 vaccine data leak a week ago.

Wellington IT worker Barry Young, 56, was arrested on Sunday and charged with accessing a computer system for dishonest purposes.

After his release on bail on Tuesday, he did an interview with the United States-based conspiracy website, InfoWars.

In a written statement today, Te Whatu Ora chief executive Margie Apa said the agency's own investigation into the unauthorised disclosure of its data was "making progress".

"We are treating this very seriously and continue to expand resources, including international expertise in cyber security, for the investigative work.

"We have also brought in forensic expertise to help with the investigation and are beginning to better understand the nature of the information involved in this breach.

"The investigation is ongoing, and we can't say anything more about the information at this stage."

Health New Zealand continued to work closely with police and the privacy watchdog, she said.

"We have liaised with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner throughout and are keeping them informed as we move through the process. In consultation with the Privacy Commissioner, Te Whatu Ora will make any appropriate notifications if individuals are impacted."

As well as working to identify material allegedly disclosed by the individual, Te Whatu Ora continued to get information taken down if it reappeared.

The agency was getting good cooperation from domestic and international platforms, she said.

Meanwhile, Te Whatu Ora was also looking at its processes for data security and making any changes needed to improve them.

"The misinformation about vaccines that has been put in the public arena in relation to our data is completely wrong. The person behind those claims was a data administrator with no clinical knowledge or expertise in vaccines.

"Vaccination is safe and effective, and everyone should keep up to date with their shots to protect themselves, whānau, and their communities."

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