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By Bruce Sussman
Tue | May 26, 2020 | 2:12 PM PDT

It's a full-page advertisement printed today in The New York Times and The Guardian in the U.K.


As you can see, it's a letter asking governments around the world to work together to stop cyberattacks on the healthcare sector as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

40 leaders ask government to block cyberattacks on healthcare

Here are a couple of the key paragraphs from the open letter to government leaders:

"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. 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.

With hundreds of thousands of people already perished and millions infected around the world, medical care is more important than ever. This will not be the last health crisis. For now and for the future, governments should assert in unequivocal terms: cyber operations against healthcare facilities are unlawful and unacceptable."

And the letter continues by drawing a very interesting parallel to the physical world:

"We don't tolerate attacks on health infrastructure in the physical world, and we must not tolerate such attacks in cyberspace...."

Who paid for this ad asking governments to stop cyberattacks?

The letter was paid for by the non-profit CyberPeace Institute and signed by leaders from organizations such as Google and the Red Cross, and recognizable names such as former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. 

Microsoft President Brad Smith, Trend Micro CEO Eva Chen, and even Mikhail Gorbachev, the former president of the Soviet Union, all signed on to the letter.

"We're in the midst of the most urgent health crisis in modern history, and these attacks threaten all of humanity," says Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross who also signed the letter. "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." 

Related podcasts: Cyberattacks on healthcare during a pandemic

This kind of sentiment is the same reason Ohad Zaidenberg started the COVID-19 Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI) League a few weeks ago.

"Since the coronavirus came out, I started to notice more and more hackers use this crisis to gain profit, and it made me so mad. It made me so angry because this is a game-changer. This is not the time to attack. People can lose their life with all this activity.

So if someone is crazy enough and sick enough to use this coronavirus crisis to leverage it, to gain some profit, he needs to know that we are here to stop him. We are here to fight back. And I think that most of the people that joined our league, they have that emotion."

Listen (below or on any podcast app) to our interview with Zaidenberg on his volunteer army of more than 1,400 security professionals who are volunteering their time to defend the healthcare industry from cyberattacks: 

The U.S. and U.K. governments recently issued a joint warning about nation-state hackers attempting to steal COVID-19 related research and data.

And cyber attorney and security researcher Alexander Urbelis, who uncovered a cyberattack against the World Health Organization, explained to SecureWorld what is at stake:

"Any nation that could acquire or any company that could acquire an advanced preview of the World Health Organization statistics with respect to the pandemic itself and its proliferation in other countries or information or intelligence with respect to palliative care vaccines underway, and all of this information could give a country or private industry or even I daresay investors, a massive leg up in terms of competitive business as well as nation state level intelligence."

Listen to the podcast here (or on your device) about the coronavirus cyberattack at the World Health Organization:

Also, here is a PDF of the call to cyber defense by the CyberPeace Insitute.