Brussels Report: Governments’ Concerns Rise About Pandemic Cyberattacks on Health Care

A surge in cyberattacks on medical facilities during the pandemic has alarmed national governments. The potential consequences were highlighted last week with the death of a woman after she was turned away from a German hospital that had been struck by ransomware.

“There is growing recognition that we need stronger protections… If coronavirus testing has to stop because computers freeze or are under ransomware or [denial-of-service cyberattacks] and can’t function properly for days or weeks, that can have serious repercussions for patients,” said Kubo Macak, a legal adviser at the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Medical institutions faced an onslaught of hacking attempts as the coronavirus spread this year, ranging from ransomware attacks on hospitals to espionage campaigns targeting pharmaceutical companies developing vaccines. Ransomware crippled servers at University Hospital Düsseldorf this month, prompting the hospital to send emergency patients to other facilities. One woman died during the delay in her treatment….

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