RIGA, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- Hackers struck Latvia's national health system early Tuesday afternoon, disabling the recently-launched e-health portal and the national health service's website, representatives of the Latvian health ministry informed.
"We are quite sure that this was a malicious attack from outside. Apparently, it was a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, intended to make the system inaccessible," said Varis Teivans, the deputy head of Latvian IT security incident response service Cert.lv, on public radio.
Although the cyber attack did not involve attempts to compromise personal data or steal information, the expert said the impact was massive enough to disrupt the system.
As soon as the cyber attack was detected, the e-health system was shut down to prevent the hackers from harming basic data, applications, or users. Access to the system was restored later in the afternoon, Latvian Health Ministry State Secretary Aivars Lapins told reporters.
Lapins said the Latvian health system was hit simultaneously from several foreign countries or servers seemingly located in foreign countries.
The health ministry's representatives could neither confirm nor deny that the cyber attack was organized outside Latvia.
On Tuesday morning, Member of Parliament Aija Barca told public media that attempts to disrupt the e-health system had also been detected on Jan. 11, but Prime Minster Maris Kucinskis later denied the reports.
Since its launch at the end of last year, the e-health system has been beleaguered by various issues. Physicians, pharmacists and IT experts have criticized it as extremely slow and seriously flawed.