US citizen leaks data on 14,200 people in Singapore with HIV

A man pins an HIV awareness ribbon to his shirt. The HIV-positive status of thousands of people was leaked from a Singaporean database this month

Officials believe a 33-year-old U.S. citizen who lived in Singapore from 2008 is behind the leak.

According to MOH, the confidential information is in the illegal possession of Mikhy K Farrera Brochez, a male United States citizen who was residing in Singapore, on an employment pass, between January 2008 and June 2016.

"I am sorry that one of our former staff who was authorised to have access to confidential information in our HIV registry appears to not have complied with our security guidelines".

Personal information belonging to 14,200 individuals diagnosed with HIV has been leaked online by an American living in Singapore and who had illegally accessed the data through his partner. It said they included HIV test results, names, identification numbers, phone numbers, addresses and other health information.

Authorities were contacting people who might have been affected by the leak and more 900 had been approached so far, local media reported.

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An American convicted of numerous crimes is believed to have leaked the information after obtaining it from his partner, a Singaporean doctor with access to the HIV registry, the ministry of health said.

The leak comes as Singapore is still dealing with the ramifications of another health-related data breach in July 2018, when hackers infiltrated the computers of SingHealth and stole the personal particulars of 1.5 million patients, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

The affected individuals included 5,400 Singaporeans and 8,800 foreigners who had been diagnosed with HIV up to January 2013 and December 2011, respectively. "Our priority is the wellbeing of the affected individuals".

"We are working with relevant parties to scan the Internet for signs of further disclosure of the information", it said, adding that Brochez now was under police investigation and local authorities were seeking assistance from their foreign counterparts.

The Ministry of Health sought to have private clinics contribute data to the NEHR via a Healthcare Services Bill introduced to parliament.

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The ministry said it had worked with the "relevant parties" to disable access to the information.

"On this occasion, he had disclosed the information online", said MOH. "Police will not hesitate to take stern action, including prosecution, against those who have breached the OSA", said a spokesman. He was convicted in September of abetting Brochez in criminal activity, and sentenced to 24 months' imprisonment.

Ler was charged in court in June 2016 for offences under the Penal Code and the Official Secrets Act (OSA).

May 2018: After Farrera-Brochez had been deported from Singapore, MOH received information that Brochez still had part of the records he had in 2016.

"Confidential information regarding 14,200 individuals diagnosed with HIV up to January 2013, and 2,400 of their contacts, is in the possession of an unauthorised person", the ministry said in a statement.

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Only when the police notified MOH last week (22 Jan) that the confidential information possessed by Farrera-Brochez has been leaked online that MOH made a decision to inform the public yesterday.

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