Everyone in the NHS is bravely preparing to care for patients infected by the virus, some will be working from home while others will be in the frontline providing direct care for all patients in the hospitals, whichever the case, we must all take extra precautions online and offline. With so many clinical staff going above and beyond to care for patients to try and stop the spread of the virus and save lives, cyber security might take a back seat, which regrettably can lead to significant breaches.
Unfortunately, cybercriminals have seen an opportunity to take advantage of the situation and created a threat which could seriously compromise computer systems used to support patient care. Different types of malware have already spread to parts of the world, using the fear that comes with the disease, Covid-19.
Paul Chichester, director of operations for The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said: “We know that cyber criminals are opportunistic and will look to exploit people’s fears, and this has undoubtedly been the case with the coronavirus outbreak.”
There are many ways hackers are taking advantage of the situation, one of the first reported ones was in Japan back in January, an email started circulating appearing to be from an official organisation and with a warning about the Coronavirus outbreak. The email contained an attachment with an alerting name about the disease, which when opened, asked the recipient to update their settings in order to view the content of the document. When recipients did this, it did not update their settings, it didn’t give them any information, instead, it stole their financial and personal data and banking logins.
Another case has been reported in the Czech Republic, where hackers launched a cyber attack on a hospital and stole thousands of coronavirus test results delaying the retrieval of such results, leading the hospital to block all emails coming from outside the organisation.
These are just two actual examples of the online coronavirus threat, which could impact patient care. Please stay vigilant and be extra careful with emails you open and links you click on. For further information, read the Cheshire and Merseyside Cyber Group’s pdf latest newsletter (3.36 MB) .