Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH) has confirmed that the medical records of over 14,000 HIV-positive people from all over the world have been leaked.
The sensitive information was leaked by an authorized person authorities have identified as Mikhy K. Farrera Brochez, an American who was deported from Singapore last year.
Information included in the leaked data are the names of those diagnosed with HIV, their identification numbers, phone numbers and addresses as well as 2,400 of their contacts.
The leak includes information about 5,400 Singaporeans who were diagnosed up to 2013 and 8,800 foreigners who were diagnosed up to 2011.
Shortly after receiving a police alert, the MOH have released a statement to inform the public that they are taking action to put a stop to the data breach, and regularly updating and enforcing tighter security measures to prevent such mishandling of sensitive information from happening again.
“The information has been illegally disclosed online. We have worked with the relevant parties to disable access to the information,” the MOH said in a statement.
“We are sorry for the anxiety and distress caused by this incident.
“While access to the confidential information has been disabled, it is still in the possession of the unauthorised person, and could still be publicly disclosed in the future.
“We are working with relevant parties to scan the Internet for signs of further disclosure of the information.”
The 33-year old US citizen was imprisoned after the courts found him guilty of fraud and drug-related offences in 2016. He was deported April of last year.
It is believed that Brochez, who is also living with HIV, was able to access the medical records from his ex-boyfriend Ler Teck Siang, the former head of MOH’s National Public Health Unit from March 2012 to May 2013.
Ler was sentenced to two years in prison in 2017 for assisting Brochez by lying to the MOH and helping Brochez hide his HIV status by using his own blood for an HIV test so that Brochez could gain working rights in Singapore.
Ler still has a pending case filed against him for mishandling confidential HIV patient information.
In 2016, the MOH filed a report against Brochez for allegedly being in possession of the sensitive data. This prompted the police to conduct a search in both Brochez and Ler’s properties and seize relevant information.
The MOH have also begun reaching out to those affected and informing them about the data breach.