The Red Cross has published a letter urging governments of different countries to take stricter steps against cyber attacks on healthcare infrastructure at a time when the world is struggling to contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus and drugmakers are scrambling to find an antidote to treat the infection. The Red Cross has urged the governments to work with the United Nations (UN) and enforce the international framework governing this space.
Coronavirus-related research and data has become a key target of hackers across the world. Organizations in the United States have reportedly been targeted by hackers in recent times who have attempted to steal data related to coronavirus research and treatment.
Red Cross Shows Concern
The Red Cross has called for an end to all kinds of cyber attacks on healthcare and medical research facilities during the coronavirus pandemic. Red Cross in its letter mentions that such cyber attacks endanger human lives and governments worldwide should take "immediate and decisive action" to stop them.
The letter further mentions that "governments should assert in unequivocal terms: cyber operations against healthcare facilities are unlawful and unacceptable" and hold hackers and other offenders to account. Many European countries and the United States have time and again said that hackers from different regions of the world have been trying to break into healthcare organizations researching into a coronavirus vaccine.
"We are hoping that the world's governments will step up to affirm their commitments to the international rules that prohibit such actions," said Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, in the letter. The Red Cross stressed on collective action so that such threats could be addressed.
Healthcare New Target of Hackers
Red Cross' letter comes a month after one of the Czech Republic's major Covid-19 testing centers, Brno University Hospital, was held to ransom. The same month, the U.S. Health and Human Services Department was hit by a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. The attacks were condemned by both the countries. In fact, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the attacks were "deeply irresponsible and dangerous."
Over the past couple of months healthcare sectors have become fresh targets of cybercriminals. Hackers have either tried to steal data, or have targeted hospital with viruses usually in schemes to extort them or hold their data ransom. Earlier this month, the U.S. accused hackers linked to the Chinese government for attempting to break into U.S. organizations researching into a coronavirus vaccine. The FBI alerted both health officials and researchers and warned them to be on the lookout for cyber theft.
Red Cross now wants governments to join forces to tackle this threat. More than 40 former and current international leaders from across government, industry, NGOs and academia signed the letter including former secretary general of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, and former director general of the WHO, Margaret Chan. Microsoft Corp President Brad Smith and former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright are the other signers of the letter.