“Over the past weeks, we have witnessed attacks that have targeted medical facilities and organisations on the frontlines of the response to the Covid-19 pandemic,” the CPI wrote in an open letter, referencing incidents that had occurred in the Czech Republic, France, Spain, Thailand and the US, and international organisations such as the World Health Organization.
The CPI details that these cyberattacks range from ransomware operations aimed at crippling primary and urgent care networks in exchange for payouts to disinformation campaigns aimed at undermining and disrupting wider elements of the response to the pandemic, including testing and vaccine research facilities. “[These actions] have endangered human lives by impairing the ability of these critical institutions to function, slowing down the distribution of essential supplies and information, and disrupting the delivery of care to patients,” the CPI explained.
The cyber security institution issued a Call to Action, urging the world’s governments to ‘work together to take immediate and decisive action to stop all cyberattacks on hospitals, healthcare and medical research facilities, as well as on medical personnel and international public health organisations’.
“With hundreds of thousands of people already perished and millions infected around the world, medical care is more important than ever,” wrote the CPI. “This will not be the last health crisis.”
Included among those that have already signed the plea are: former Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov; former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad Al Hussein; former Director General of the World Health Organization Margaret Chan; former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo; Microsoft President Brad Smith; and seven Nobel Prize Laureates.
“As healthcare professionals are protecting us in the real world, it is up to civil society, industry and governments to collectively act for their protection in cyberspace,” said Stéphane Duguin, CEO at the CPI. “In this effort, humanity needs governments to work together by setting the tone and the example, to ensure healthcare is protected, and perpetrators are held accountable.”