Confidential data containing the HIV-positive status of thousands of individuals living in Singapore was recently leaked online by U.S. citizen Mikhy Brochez, Singapore's Health Ministry announced on Monday.
Those affected are 5,400 Singaporeans diagnosed with HIV up to January 2013, and 8,800 foreigners diagnosed with HIV up to December 2011. The information included names, identification numbers, phone numbers, addresses, HIV test results and other medical information.
He is the former partner of Ler Teck Siang, the former head of Singapore's National Public Health Unit, who was convicted of helping Farrera-Brochez falsify his medical records to disguise his HIV-positive status.
In a wild story, Mikhy Farrera-Brochez, who is HIV-positive, used his boyfriend's blood to pass blood tests so he could move to Singapore in 2008.
Singapore's Ministry of Health said in a statement Monday that confidential data from its HIV registry had been illegally accessed and leaked by Mikhy K Farrera Brochez, a United States citizen residing in Singapore on an employment pass.
In September 2018, he was convicted of abetting Brochez to commit cheating, and also of providing false information to the Police and MOH, thus, he was sentenced to 24 months' imprisonment.
Brochez was deported after serving his jail term and was now overseas, according to the ministry statement, which did not say where. "Our priority is the wellbeing of the affected individuals", a release from the Ministry of Health (MOH) reads.
The Health Ministry said it had begun contacting affected individuals about the incident and was working to "disable access to the information". However, officials have warned that the culprit is still in possession of the information and could disclose it publicly in the future.
The Ministry of Health says they first became aware that Brochez had access to the private information back in 2016 and immediately made a police report that resulted in Brochez's home being searched and materials seized. A workstation specifically configured and locked down to prevent unauthorised information removal was designated for the processing of sensitive information from the HIV Registry.
The hack comes just months after the records of 1.5m Singaporeans, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, were stolen previous year.
The Ministry of Health sought to have private clinics contribute data to the NEHR via a Healthcare Services Bill introduced to parliament.
"We are working with relevant parties to scan the internet for signs of further disclosure of the information". "Police will not hesitate to take stern action, including prosecution, against those who have breached the OSA", said a spokesman. Ler was charged in Court in June 2016 for offenses under the Penal Code and the Official Secrets Act (OSA).
It was only on January 22 this year that the ministry was alerted to the possibility more information from the HIV registry remained in the hands of Brochez who, this time, had leaked the information online.
Sentenced to two years in jail, Ler is appealing against the sentence, with the hearing scheduled for March.