COVID-19 Booking System in Italy Taken Offline by Cyber Attack

Statue Of David in the Piazza della Signoria Wearing a Face Mask

This weekend, hackers set their sights on the IT systems belonging to a pandemic response organization. The cyber attack crippled the systems responsible for COVID-19 vaccination bookings for the entire Lazio region surrounding Rome.

Moreover, other government services were affected, with the central government website for the Lazio region down throughout the weekend. As of Monday, August 2, the website is still unresponsive. According to an Italian media outlet, a virus was responsible, which paralyzed the IT system without compromising any personal data.

Cyber Attack Paralyzes Government Website

Like many regions, Italy has had to react quickly to the Covid pandemic. In just one month, between February 2021 and March 2021, all civilian movement was prohibited across the nation. However, also much like other parts of the world, the country’s healthcare systems are under pressure. This cyber attack is the latest blow to the nation’s progress in getting back to some kind of normality.

According to a social media post by Alession D’Amato, Lazio’s health manager, “It is a very powerful hacker attack, very serious… everything is out. The whole regional [database] is under attack.” A subsequent update about the attack was also posted on the region’s Twitter account, which was more hesitant to admit to the scale of the problem:

“A hacker attack on the regional data centre is underway… all defence and verification operations are ongoing to avoid prolonging the cut in services. Operations concerning vaccinations may be slowed down.”

Suffering such a cyber attack on a critical healthcare system couldn’t have come at a worse time. Vaccinations are rolling out well, with a little over 50% of the population now having two doses of the COVID vaccine. However, there has been resistance to other plans set out by the government to manage the pandemic. Namely, plans to expand an existing “COVID passport” scheme known as the “Green Pass”.

Italy Extends Restrictions Under Green Pass Scheme

Following the lead of similar changes in France recently, citizens will now need proof of vaccination to participate in an extended range of activities. From August 6, you’ll need the “Green Pass” to access sporting and cultural events across the country or dine indoors at restaurants.

This regional passport is not a new scheme. Launched in June 2021 by Italy’s premier, Mario Draghi, the Green Pass proves your vaccination or immunity status. Originally, its purpose was to allow you to travel, participate in large events, and access care facilities to visit loved ones. However, there has been resistance to new plans that include indoor dining.

Anyone who wants to take part in these restricted activities will need to request a Green Pass. You can do so by accessing the Certificazione Verde website and selecting a language from English, French, German, or Italian.

 

Cybersecurity journalist
Chris is a tech journalist with many years' experience covering the latest news in online privacy and cybersecurity. He's also a published author and works as a Product Manager for some of the most innovative software development companies.