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Red Cross calls for end to cyberattacks on healthcare targets

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/Wichy)

The Red Cross, together with 40 other international organisations, has urged governments around the world to do more to protect healthcare institutions from cybercriminals as they struggle to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), published an open letter, in which he asked global leaders to "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."

In the past few months, as the Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked devastation on most corners of the globe, cybercriminals have increased efforts against healthcare institutions, targeting facilities in the Czech Republic, France, Spain, Thailand, and the US.

ITProPortal has also reported extensively on coronavirus-related phishing scams, which saw criminals impersonate the United Nations, World Health Organisation and other similar institutions.

While asking criminals to halt activities is unlikely to prove effective, experts agree involving governments is an appropriate first step. Talking to The Register, Mike Hamilton, CISO at CI Security, said treating virtual borders as physical ones could help.

"I don’t think the ransomware operators, fraudsters, etc. will give up by being asked," he said. "Note how bad unemployment impersonation fraud is right now – criminals stealing from people that are really down (bastards)."

"However, if governments talk and make some agreements this may have the potential to start treating our logical borders like our physical borders: if you don’t maintain a standard of behaviour (speaking to country X), we lock out your legit business traffic and your business leaders can go scream to [political] leaders to fix things," he added.

Sead Fadilpašić

Sead is a freelance journalist with more than 15 years of experience in writing various types of content, from blogs, whitepapers, and reviews to ebooks, and many more, across sites including Al Jazeera Balkans, TechRadar Pro, IT Pro Portal, and CryptoNews.