Cybercriminals are exploiting the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic to launch potentially deadly cyberattacks on a global health industry already struggling to cope with the largest global challenge it has ever been called on to deal with.
But a growing global collective of private and public sector organisations are rising to the challenge to keep the healthcare providers operational as they battle Covid-19 and cybercriminals.
And Connectus has joined the fight with the announcement it will offer healthcare and educational providers a range of substantial support packages in order to give responders the support they need and #keepemsafe in such challenging times.
Cybercriminals are using ransomware to hold hospitals and medical services digitally hostage, preventing them from accessing vital files and systems until a ransom is paid. Interpol’s Cybercrime Threat Response team has detected a significant increase in the number of attempted ransomware attacks.
“As hospitals and medical organizations around the world are working non-stop to preserve the well-being of individuals stricken with the coronavirus, they have become targets for ruthless cybercriminals who are looking to make a profit at the expense of sick patients,” said Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock.
“Locking hospitals out of their critical systems will not only delay the swift medical response required during these unprecedented times, it could directly lead to deaths. Interpol continues to stand by its member countries and provide any assistance necessary to ensure our vital healthcare systems remain untouched and the criminals targeting them held accountable.”
In the UK, the National Health Service (NHS) is already in crisis mode, says London-based international think tank Chatham House. Health professionals are focused on providing beds and ventilators in response to “one of the largest peacetime threats ever faced”.
But cybersecurity support is critical so health professionals can carry on saving lives, wrote Joyce Hakmeh, Senior Research Fellow of Chatham House’s International Security Programme and Co-Editor of the organisation’s Journal of Cyber Policy in early April.
“Yet this support is currently missing and the health services may be ill-prepared to deal with the aftermath of potential cyberattacks.”
The NHS is stretched to breaking point, says Hakmeh, and expecting it to be on top of its cybersecurity during the Covid-19 pandemic is not only unrealistic, but it could also actually add to national risks.
“Now is the time where new partnerships and support models should be emerging to support the NHS and help build its resilience. Now is the time where innovative public-private partnerships on cybersecurity should be formed. Similar to the economic package from the UK chancellor and innovative thinking on ventilator production, the government should oversee a scheme calling on the large cybersecurity capacity within the private sector to step in and assist the NHS. This support can be delivered in many different ways, but it must be mobilized swiftly.”
There are opportunities in every crisis, says Hakmeh, and the Covid-19 pandemic offers an opportunity for the UK government to show agility in how it deals with cyber threats and how it cooperates with the private sector to improve national cyber resilience.
“It is an opportunity to lead a much-needed cultural change showing cybersecurity should never be an afterthought.”
Connectus CEO Roy Shelton said:
“Building on our work with healthcare and government clients – including Clinical Skills, serving over 100 NHS trusts across the UK – Connectus are ideally placed to assist the healthcare industry with proactive cybersecurity protection.
“Our innovative approach of integrating the world’s best technologies into a single robust, scalable and cost-effective managed service which can be rapidly deployed is already generating increased levels of protection for our clients. We are offering healthcare and educational providers a range of substantial support packages in order to enhance their capabilities and #keepemsafe.”