Miriam’s Musings

Why didn’t HSE analysts see ‘zero-day’ hack coming?

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ll know that last week, our entire healthcare system fell victim to what was an extremely sophisticated and significant cyber-attack, apparently known as a ‘zero-day’ assault.  

  Now as I understand it folks, the criminals behind this ambush managed to skilfully exploit what was, to them, a clearly obvious vulnerability in our systems; a weakness it seems, which apparently was neither observed, nor even identified by the HSE’s own well-paid cyber security analysts. 

  Due to this massive fizz-up, an avenue leading to a threat so acute, was opened up long enough to  not just cripple our entire healthcare system, it  also left HSE bosses with egg on their faces and rendered us, their tax-paying clients, as vulnerable as sitting ducks! Yes, I’m aware I’m using a lot of idioms here, but this is a family publication meaning the use of more colourful language is not an option! 

  Mind you, however you look at it, it’s my opinion that, by their nefarious misdeeds, these healthcare hackers have called attention to the urgent need for the HSE and other Government bodies to forensically scrutinise the risks, to take appropriate action and to urgently put in place more stringent security measures! As in, wake up and act today please!

  It was always obvious that the HSE would become an easy target for these malicious malware jockeys for the simple reason it aggregates a major amount of our personal information and data – especially recently, due to Covid testing and of course through the vaccination registration portals etc. 

  For that very reason, I’d like to pose the following questions. Did the government and the HSE   under-anticipate such destructive breaches occurring? If they did, has this remarkable ineptitude led to them under-investing in their IT systems? In addition, would this type of tardiness effectively make a hacker’s job effortless? If the answer to these questions is yes, then I’d have to say that hacking our systems and stealing our nation’s data must, to those so inclined, be akin to shamefully stealing candy from a baby. 

  In this instance, as the HSE and you and I are that proverbial baby, it’s likely that due to this one single attack, a large amount of the public’s personal data has probably been maliciously stolen. At the time of writing, officials were trying to determine “what level of data may have been compromised”; either way the floodgates have been thrown wide open for our medical records – which should have been protected – to become potential money-makers for the criminal gangs.

  What’s even worse, seriously ill patients are now going without vital treatment, forcing them into a perilous and distressing situation. I cannot imagine the pain, suffering and worry these vulnerable people are going through. My heart goes out to them. 

  I don’t know about you readers, but it makes me livid at the thought that the integrity, confidentiality and the privacy of our most personal and intimate information may now become a commercialised and monetised commodity; hawked to the highest bidder! In fact, I think I’m right in assuming that this breach has not simply instilled a sense of fear and vulnerability into tax payers, it has also eroded any confidence we may have had in our government’s and in our HSE’s ability to protect us against future ambushes. 

  On the other hand – and forgive me readers for trying to see a glimmer of humour in this gigantic cock-up, I don’t do it lightly because I believe the HSE and their analysts should have seen this hack coming. However, my anger and indignation aside, it occurred to me that when these cyber-terrorist (I’m going to use a word our editor dislikes me using), scumbags – sorry Ed – do peddle our most intimate, deep and personal data, their victims – you and I – won’t even get a cent from the financial cut?


Is this a prime example of ‘snowflakery?’ I think it is!

If ever there was a prime example of pure and utter ‘snowflakery’ it was this. Last week, in an attempt to be courteous and welcoming to commuters, a train announcer in the UK received a backlash from an infuriated non-binary passenger for greeting everyone with the term, ‘Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls’. 

  A Twitter user, named ‘Laurence’ complained to London North Eastern Railway (LNER) because they didn’t like the company’s use of gender-specific plural nouns, i.e. ladies and gentlemen. You see, as a non-binary individual, ‘Laurence’ as is they’re right, wishes to be referred to by the pronouns they or them.

  Yes folks, I kid you not, ‘Laurence’ – who clearly likes to begin his sentences by using a conjunction – something which personally drives me nuts – bemoaned, ‘so as a non-binary person this announcement doesn’t actually apply to me so I won’t listen.’ (Sic). ‘Laurence’s’ travelling companion ‘Jarley’, who clearly prefers using the past-participle as a parallel to what is actually happening,  tweeted,  ‘I was sat with Laurence when this tweet was sent. Both of us are non-binary and we were both alarmed and uncomfortable by the lack of inclusion.’ (Sic). 

  Before I go on folks, let me say that as someone who champions equality and embraces diversity I fully respect everyone’s right to be identified by whatever terminology they so choose. Therefore, if you do not wish to be identified by the pronouns he or she, him or her, and instead prefer they or them, then that is your absolute right. 

  What I don’t respect, and what really irritates me is the behaviour of what has now become the generation-find-fault-with-everyone-else brigade.   The people who take widespread issue, make signs and protest because there’s a shortage of avocadoes for their ‘avo-toast.’ The, just-because-I-exist-the world-owes-me-everything snowflakes, who, if they bored us any more they would probably strike oil!

  In addition, I also have no respect for LNER who actually issued an immediate apology, stating its train managers ‘should not be using language like this.’ Language like what? Your managers issued a greeting, a harmless, mannerly welcome to people using their service. If I was on a train packed full of men and I was the only woman, I wouldn’t give a fizz if the manager said ‘good morning gentlemen’. I don’t know about you readers, but I think ‘Laurence’ and ‘Jarley’ need to join Outraged-Nit-Pickers-Anonymous!  


Roscommon reopens: Happy days are here again! 

It was a landmark week for Rossies as so-call ‘non-essential’ retail got to re-stock their shelves, throw open their doors and welcome back shoppers!

  With that happy sentiment in mind, as local businesses need our support, now, more than ever, can I urge readers to please, please don’t ignore them and do drop into them. After all, you won’t have to queue outside a local fashion boutique with a gang of frustrated shoppers desperate to buy the same outfit as everyone else! 

  And yes, I do love the cheap and cheerful, budged-friendly fashion chain stores, sure who doesn’t. I go to them for all my ‘essentials’ and my ‘bits and pieces’ etc., But if I need that one-off bespoke, special-occasion, head-to-toe dressing experience, I know I simply won’t get better than my local boutique, especially when it comes with the shop owner’s expert and friendly advice about that dress, that suit, or that blouse I thought would look fab on me but doesn’t actually live up to my expectations. It’s called the ‘personal touch’. 

  Remember readers, when we keep our business local, we’re quite literally stimulating our own communities, kind of like helping to shape not just their unique characters but their very futures. Happy shopping!


Sincere condolences…

I’d like to extend my sincere condolences to the family and friends of the couple who tragically lost their lives in a house fire in south Roscommon last week. I didn’t know this couple at all, but my heart goes out to those who loved and cherished them and to their local community who will surely miss them. May they both rest in peace.