The Red Cross has called on hackers and scammers to end their cyber-attacks on health facilities in a letter published today (26th May).
The letter, also signed by a group of political and business figures, said that attacks endanger human lives, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic, and governments should take more “immediate and decisive action” to stop them.
Brad Smith, President of Microsoft, and former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, are among the 42 co-signers of the letter, which was initiated by the CyberPeace Institute.
In the letter, Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, said: “We are hoping that the world’s governments will step up to affirm their commitments to the international rules that prohibit such actions.”
The calls come after an increase in cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure and healthcare facilities during the Covid-19 pandemic, with hackers and scammers eyeing an opportunity to take advantage of a complicated situation.
In April, Interpol warned that cybercriminals have been increasing attacks on healthcare systems, increasing ransomware attacks to hold hospitals to ransom during the spread of Covid-19, despite the work these facilities carry out to save lives.
Interpol Secretary-General, Jürgen Stock, commented: “As hospitals and medical organisations 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
“Locking hospitals out of their critical systems will not only delay the swift medical response required during these unprecedented times, but it could also 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.”
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According to research by Check Point, cyber-attacks relating to Covid-19 themselves increased by almost 30% in the first two weeks of May, with an average of 192,000 coronavirus-related cyber-attacks occurring per week, especially phishing attacks impersonating major organisations such as the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Check Point’s Manager of Data Research, Omer Dembinsky, commented: “We have noticed a change in criminals’ tactics over the last three weeks. Hackers have gone into over-drive to take advantage of the coronavirus pandemic.
“If you unpack these latest cyber-attacks, the theme of impersonation is a clear and strong one, especially using the WHO, the UN and Zoom as a cover for phishing.
“For example, the number of Zoom-like domain registrations in the past three weeks alone is staggering. More than ever, it is important to beware of lookalike domains and to be extra cautious of unknown email senders.”