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Healthcare

Prosecutors probe terrorism among reasons behind Italy region hacking - sources

MILAN, Aug 3 (Reuters) - Italian prosecutors are considering terrorism among the reasons behind a cyber attack that shut down all services offered by the Lazio region through its website, two investigative sources told Reuters on Tuesday.

On Sunday the region, which manages services for 5.9 million people living in a large area surrounding Rome, said that hackers had attacked and closed down the IT systems of the company that manages COVID-19 vaccination appointments.

It said all systems had been deactivated, including those of the region’s health portal, and warned the vaccine inoculation programme could suffer a delay.

Two sources told Reuters on Tuesday that Rome’s prosecutors had opened an investigation into the attack and cited terrorism as a potential aggravating factor for people behind the hack.

“Lazio had been hit by a ransomware attack”, one of the sources said, adding that all the computers normally managing online services for citizens, including appointments for coronavirus vaccinations and swabs, were still paralysed.

The hackers had not yet made a request for money or other payments, the source said, but added they had opened a dialogue with the region that could result in a ransom request later on.

“This is a significant attack for Italy because it targets a critical infrastructure of a large local administration and involves a very large part (of the IT system),” the source said.

In a Facebook posting on Tuesday, the Lazio region said services for booking vaccines and the vaccination registry would be restored within 72 hours.

There is still no evidence about where the attack actually originated, the sources said. (Reporting by Francesca Landini; additional reporting by Marco Carta in Rome, Editing by William Maclean)

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