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Laurie Clarke

Reporter

Red Cross calls for global unity against healthcare cyber attacks during Covid-19

The Red Cross has published a letter calling on the world’s governments to take more decisive action against cyber attacks on healthcare infrastructure during Covid-19. It urges governments to work together and with the UN to refine and enforce the international framework governing this space.

In response to the surge in cyber attacks on health bodies across the world during the Covid-19 pandemic, the letter says that “governments should assert in unequivocal terms: cyber operations against healthcare facilities are unlawful and unacceptable” and hold perpetrators to account.

“We’re in the midst of the most urgent health crisis in modern history, and these attacks threaten all of humanity,” said Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross. “We must take action collectively to ensure this threat is addressed, and already fragile health care systems, particularly in countries affected by war and violence are not put at further risk by cyber operations.”

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.

A number of attacks have been launched on health and medical research facilities since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak. In March, one of the Czech Republic’s major Covid-19 testing centres, Brno University Hospital, was held to ransom, and in the same month the US Health and Human Services Department (HHS) was hit by a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack.