Records of 14 200 Singapore HIV patients leaked online

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong  YT screencapture

Personal information belonging to 14,200 individuals diagnosed with HIV has been leaked online by an American living in Singapore and who had illegally accessed the data through his partner.

The MOH said the information was in the possession of a USA citizen named Mikhy K Farrera Brochez, who had been remanded to prison in Singapore in 2016, convicted of numerous fraud and drug-related offenses.

The registry is alleged to contain the name, ID number, phone number, email address, HIV test results and related medical information for 5,400 Singapore nationals who were diagnosed with HIV up to January 2013.

In a statement on its website, the ministry said the confidential health information of some 14,200 individuals diagnosed with HIV had been exposed.

Brochez was sentenced to 28 months in jail in 2017 for offenses related to him using his partner's blood sample in place of his own for an HIV test that would have affected his employment status.

Brochez is now under police investigation, and the authorities are seeking assistance from their foreign counterparts, according to the ministry statement, which did not specify any country.

A two-person approval process to download and decrypt registry information was implemented to ensure that the data can not be accessed by a single person.

Last year, Singapore revealed that personal information of about 1.5 million people including the prime minister was stolen after hackers infiltrated the government health database. However, officials have warned that the culprit is still in possession of the information and could disclose it publicly in the future.

The ministry said it was notified by the police last Tuesday (Jan 22) that confidential information of HIV patients had been leaked, and made a police report the following day (Jan 23). "We have worked with the relevant parties to disable access to the information". "We will extend whatever assistance and support that we can for them".

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"Police will not hesitate to take stern action, including prosecution, against those who have breached the OSA".

Singaporean officials assured the public that they had installed additional security measures to protect patients' health data in 2016, three years after Brochez stole the HIV files.

Mr Gan said his ministry will continue to strengthen and review its system to ensure that it is secured.

"We are working with relevant parties to scan the internet for signs of further disclosure of the information".

June 2016: Ler was charged for offences under the Penal Code and OSA.

In September previous year, he was convicted of abetting Brochez to commit cheating, and also of providing false information to the Police and MOH.

Sentenced to two years in jail, Ler is appealing against the sentence, with the hearing scheduled for March.

May 2018: After Farrera-Brochez had been deported from Singapore, MOH received information that Brochez still had part of the records he had in 2016.

About eight months later, MOH found that Brochez could have illegal possession of more information from the HIV registry and that he had disclosed the information online.

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