Singapore’s health ministry was alarmed when records of 14,200 people infected with HIV were lost on January 2013. After almost 6 years of investigating, the authorities finally named the culprit, an American who was deported years ago due to drug related issues.
Mikhy K. Farrera Brochez, the alleged theft, recently uploaded the records of 5,400 Singaporeans and 8,800 foreigners online. The information comprises HIV test results, names of the affected, identification numbers, phone numbers, addresses, and other substantial data.
The authorities were unable to find the present location of Mr. Brochez, though access to this information has been blocked. However, it remains unsafe on the hands of the unauthorized person. It can still be dangerous for instances that it will be uploaded again shortly and will be used against the people who are affected by the virus.
The people are demanding for public disclosure as to how Brochez got the information. According to the health ministry, he worked in Singapore as a lecturer but was deported due to several offenses on drug abuse and fraud. His partner, Ler Teck Siang is a Singaporean doctor who led the ministry’s national public health unit from March 2012 to May 2013, and obviously had an access to vital information. These facts led the arrest of Ler who has been charged under the Official Secrets Act for failing, in all terms, to execute his role in protecting confidential information against personal interest and fraud.
Ler, after several trials, was convicted for helping Brochez in stealing and giving out false information to the police and health ministry. He was sentenced to 24-months imprisonment but then filed an appeal which will be heard in March.
However, the police were also notified last Tuesday that more information was in Brochez’ possessions and it had been previously disclosed online threatening the subjects. Authorities together with the health ministry administration are now investigating the attempts and will post a public notice to arrest Brochez. Moreover, they are also asking for a backup from the foreign counterparts, as police were bombarded by allegations that the perpetrator may now be on the foreign lands.
This recent breach to data poses a serious threat to Singaporeans whether their personal information is not compromised. It also led to the questioning of the security inside the ministry, why such vital information could be easily taken.
Amidst the controversy, the administration assured the public that it now requires two persons to approve the decrypting and downloading of information, but it does not guarantee how safe and secured our information nowadays.