Cyber-attacks on global healthcare industry red-flagged

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The CyberPeace Institute worked with world leaders to petition the UN to for greater prevention efforts against cyber-attacks plaguing the global healthcare industry during COVID-19, reports Jurist.

The letter was signed by more than 40 individuals such as former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, a professor of public international law at the University of Oxford and more.

According to the letter, medical facilities and organisations responding to the COVID-19 pandemic have been targeted frequently by cyber-attacks in the last few weeks. The signatories stated that “cyber operations against healthcare facilities are unlawful and unacceptable,” and that governments must work with civil and private sectors to “ensure that medical facilities are respected and protected, and to hold perpetrators accountable”.

The letter requests action from governments to stop the cyber attacks on hospitals and medical facilities. The letter has also been featured in full-page print ads in The New York Times and The Guardian.


Cybersecurity specialist Mikey Molfessis from Mimecast has issued the warning to South African healthcare organisations and people who depend on them that with criminals taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic, the health sector has come under siege from cybercriminals aiming to disrupt and profit from healthcare services. Pretoria News reports that this comes after reports that globally used email service, Gmail, has everyday been blocking over 1m emails targeting vulnerable employees working from home.

He said with the peak of the pandemic expected to reach South Africa between the end of June and September cybercriminals are likely to continue their campaigns to disrupt and undermine the healthcare sector’s critical work.

Molfessis said: “Healthcare organisations need to reinforce best practices in data protection, especially as it relates to the privacy and security of critical patient data. The deployment of additional healthcare tools such as telehealth, mobile location data, social contact tracking and facial recognition represent a potential pandora’s box of data security risks that cybercriminals are attempting to exploit.”

Pretoria News points to an Interpol report that found that cybercriminals are targeting critical healthcare institutions with ransomware, which can cause near-catastrophic disruption and significant financial losses for hospitals dealing with the sudden increase in COVID-19 patients.

Full Jurist report


Full Letter


Full Pretoria News report

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