Hospital hacker spared prison after plod find almost 9,000 cardiac images at his home

NHS working with cops and ICO to determine if patients must be told

Updated A Stoke-on-Trent hospital administrator has avoided prison after hacking his NHS trust and helping himself to almost 9,000 heart scan images.

Daniel Moonie, a 27-year-old of Waterlily Close, Etruria, Stoke-on-Trent, was cautioned by police in 2017 after he was caught remotely accessing the internal network of the Royal Stoke hospital, something he wasn't authorised to do.

Moonie, who was employed by the hospital's heart and lung department as an administrator, was sacked. As part of the police caution he agreed not to access any IT system within the hospital, not to enter the hospital unless he was ill or visiting a patient, and not to contact hospital staff unless asked to by the HR department.

He later unsuccessfully appealed against the caution. Crown prosecutor Paul Spratt told Stoke-on-Trent Crown court: "He made an error in March 2017 and was cautioned for accessing the hospital computer by a home computer. He had, in truth, not obtained any material of a sensitive nature at that time."

Spratt added: "The hospital's head of cyber security undertook some administrative work on the main computer system in December 2017. He found someone other than himself, or a registered person, had been able to gain access to the administrator rights of the computer when they should not have done. They achieved that by changing a password."*

In December 2017, the Royal Stoke's head of cybersecurity discovered that changed password, as related in a report of Moonie's sentencing.

Police were called in and they searched Moonie's home, discovering 14 files relating to his sacking – as well as 600 staff-related documents, "about 150 documents related to management matters", and photos of patients' medical procedures across two disk drives.

Crown prosecutor Spratt told the court: "There were 8,895 images of cardiac tests but they were unattributed. He used the computer to reveal information to him that he had no right to. He was misguided and motivated out of a desire that he was not carrying the can for another."

His Honour Judge David Fletcher told Moonie: "You are not lacking in intelligence. You clearly know your way around computers. You need now to concentrate very hard on utilising the skills you have in going forward in a positive manner and not resort to this behaviour which could result in something that causes a massive blow to public confidence."

Moonie admitted one offence under section 1(1) of the Computer Misuse Act 1990 between January and July 2017*.

He was handed a 12-month community order including 160 hours' unpaid work and must pay £2,000 in prosecution costs.

Mark Bostock, director of Information Management and Technology at University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust, said in a canned statement: "Concerns about Daniel Moonie's activity were raised by a colleague and immediate action was taken to launch an internal investigation, involve the police and notify the Information Commissioner’s Office."

Bostock added: "The full extent of Mr Moonie's activity has only come to light during the police investigation and now that the trial has concluded we will be working with the Police and the ICO to establish what, if any action should now be taken in terms of notifying individual members of the public or staff about their data. We would like to reassure patients that there is no evidence of harm or risk to their care as a result."

Moonie's case has some similarities with that of Jet2 hacker Scott Burns, who was also sacked, held a grudge and was later caught logging back into his former employer's network. ®

Updated at 15:48 on 15 May 2020

* This story was updated to remove statements since withdrawn by the Crown Prosecution Service relating to an allegation Moonie changed passwords on the department's system.

The CPS has since issued a corrected statement confirming there was no direct evidence Moonie had done this. The time-span of the offences has also been amended. The original CPS statement stated they took place from 1 August 2016 to 31 December 2017 which has been corrected to a time-span of January to July 2017. The Register is happy to make these corrections.

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