Speaking on an online press conference this week Eugene Kaspersky, founder and CEO of IT security giant Kaspersky Lab, likened cyber-attacks on hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic to acts of terror.
“Cyber-criminals are very likely to stay active,” he said. “They are used to working from home and their circumstances have not changed drastically. They will keep trying to attack businesses and individuals and it is our job to keep working hard and defend our customers.
“Any attack made on a hospital at this time can be seen as equivalent to a terrorist attack.”
Kaspersky was joined on the press conference by Costin Raiu, Kaspersky’s director of global research and analysis team, who also spoke strongly to condemn cyber-criminals targeting hospitals, and Yury Namestnikov, the company’s head of global research and analysis team for Russia, who reflected on some of the key COVID-19-related threats Kaspersky has detected.
Raiu argued that any malicious individuals or groups that carry out attacks on healthcare organizations should be heavily reprimanded.
“The message must be clear to cyber-criminals that anybody targeting medical institutions will be hunted down by LEAs and cybersecurity companies like ourselves to make sure they are brought to justice,” he added.
Raiu pointed out that not only are hospitals under severe pressure to ensure healthcare processes are functioning and effective, the current cyber-threat circumstances they are facing make this an even greater challenge.
“People in hospitals are understandably having to concentrate on looking after their patients and saving lives. They are not necessarily worried about updating their systems. They may also be managing and prioritizing resources differently and if they need to choose between investing in cybersecurity solutions or buying medical equipment, there is only one clear choice.”
Namestnikov said that, in the last few months, there has been a significant rise in both opportunistic and targeted attacks, with spear- phishing campaigns in particular causing challenges as they target users with fake coronavirus-related advice.
“We are seeing a spread in COVID-19 messaging to trick people into opening malicious links or attachments and downloading malware,” he added. “We saw a 43% growth in this sort of attack between January and March 2020.”