International Plea for Governments to Protect Healthcare from Cyber-Attacks

A plea from the Cyber Peace Institute for healthcare providers to be protected against cyber-threats has attracted international support.

Major players in cybersecurity, academics, and numerous political movers and shakers have backed the call for governments to work together "with civil society and the private sector" to defend hospital, healthcare, and medical research facilities from digital assaults. 

In a strongly worded plea published May 26, the Cyber Peace Institute asked governments to assert in unequivocal terms that the targeting of healthcare facilities by cyber-criminals is both "unlawful and unacceptable."

"We call on the world’s governments 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 organizations," wrote the CPI. "To this end, governments should work together, including at the United Nations, to reaffirm and recommit to international rules that prohibit such actions."

The CPI highlighted recent cyber-assaults against healthcare providers around the world, cynically timed to coincide with the outbreak of COVID-19 in nearly every corner of the planet. 

"Over the past weeks, we have witnessed attacks that have targeted medical facilities and organizations on the frontlines of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic," wrote CPI. 

"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." 

While the rate of deaths caused by the novel coronavirus continues to fall in some countries, bringing hope that the pandemic is ebbing, the CPI's plea warns against complacency.

"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."

Political bigwigs who have signed the Institute's rally call include former presidents of the Soviet Union, Uruguay, Brazil, Liberia, Chile, Swiss Confederation, Mexico, Colombia, Denmark, Poland, and Slovenia, as well as former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright.

Signatories from the cybersecurity industry include Kaspersky CEO Eugene Kaspersky, Microsoft president Brad Smith, and Trend Micro CEO Eva Chen.

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