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UN, Governments Called on to Thwart Cyberattacks on Hospitals

May 26, 2020, 4:00 AM

Dozens of global leaders -- ranging from former heads of state to private sector executives and Nobel laureates -- signed onto a letter calling on international governments and the United Nations to help prevent the cyberattacks that have plagued health care and research facilities during the coronavirus crisis.

“We call on the world’s governments to take immediate and decisive action to stop all cyberattacks on hospitals, health care and medical research facilities, as well as on medical personnel and international public health organizations,” said a letter organized under the CyberPeace Institute, a nonprofit that helps hacking victims.

Among the signatories were former U.S. diplomats including Madeleine Albright, private sector leaders including Microsoft Corp. President Brad Smith, former heads of state including former Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, Nobel laureates including Desmond Tutu, and former UN officials including Ban Ki-moon.

“Over the past weeks, we have witnessed attacks that have targeted medical facilities and organizations on the front lines of the response to the Covid-19 pandemic,” the group wrote in the letter. “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.”

Hospitals have long drawn the unwanted attentions of hackers due to the mountains of personal data, outdated software, internet-connected equipment and thousands of employees. But now as they focus resources on battling the pandemic, hospitals in addition to medical researchers and health-care companies have increasingly become targets as criminal groups seek to exploit the crisis.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Alyza Sebenius in Washington at asebenius@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Elizabeth Wasserman at ewasserman2@bloomberg.net;
Michael Shepard at mshepard7@bloomberg.net

Anne VanderMey

© 2020 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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