Possible cyberattack disrupts healthcare services in Canadian province -minister

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FILE PHOTO: A computer keyboard lit by a displayed cyber code is seen in this illustration picture

(Reuters) - A possible cyber attack against the healthcare system in the Canadian province of Newfoundland has disrupted services and forced the cancellation of some appointments, health authorities said on Monday.

An investigation was under way to understand the nature and extent of the attack, which was detected on Saturday, health minister John Haggie told reporters.

"This led to progressive failure of what's been described to me as the brain of the data center and a loss of functionality and systems across the regional health authorities," he said, adding that authorities have adopted contingency measures.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation said a ransomware attack, which encrypts computer files and demands payment for them to be restored, was behind the disruption of healthcare services, but Haggie could not confirm that.

There has been significant impact across the healthcare system in the remote Atlantic province.

Chief Executive Officer David Diamond of the Eastern Regional Health Authority, the most affected region, said emergency procedures were going ahead on Monday and all other appointments would be rescheduled for another day.

Toronto's transport agency was subject to a ransomware attack last week but did not cause any significant disruption, according to a report by The Canadian Press.

In June, a hospital in Toronto lost control of essential services when it came under a ransomware attack.

(Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru; Editing by Howard Goller)

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