SINGAPORE – Confidential data of 14,200 people diagnosed with HIV, mostly foreign, were stolen and leaked online in Singapore, authorities said on Monday, the second major data breach in the city-state within a few months.
An American convicted of countless crimes is believed to have leaked the information after getting it from his partner, a Singaporean doctor with access to the HIV registry, the Health Ministry said.
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The discovery comes after the health records of 1.5 million Singaporeans, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, were stolen in a suspected state-sponsored attack in June and July, the country's biggest data breach.
"Confidential information about 14,200 people diagnosed with HIV by January 2013 and 2,400 of their contacts are in the possession of an unauthorized person," the ministry said in a statement.
"The information was illegally released online … We regret the anxiety and anguish caused by this incident."
Information includes names, identification numbers, contact details, HIV test results, and other medical information.
Access to information has been blocked but is still in the possession of the leaked person – and can be released again, the ministry warned.
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Those affected are 5,400 Singaporeans diagnosed with HIV by January 2013, and 8,800 foreigners diagnosed with HIV by December 2011.
Singapore, a rich city of 5.6 million people, is home to many expatriates.
The Ministry of Health was notified by police last week that confidential information from the HIV registry may have been disclosed.
The data are in the possession of Mikhy K. Farrera Brochez, a North American citizen who lived in Singapore between 2008 and 2016, the ministry said.
He was convicted of fraud and drug-related crimes in March 2017 and deported from Singapore after completing his sentence.
He is not currently in the city-state, the ministry said, adding that officials are seeking help from their foreign counterparts.
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Brochez was the partner of Ler Teck Siang, a male doctor from Singapore, who had access to the HIV registry for his work. He was convicted in September for inciting Brochez in criminal activity and sentenced to 24 months in prison. He is attractive.
Earlier this month, an official investigation into last year's breach highlighted a number of flaws, including weaknesses in computer systems, and said authorities believe a state is likely behind the attack.