UK condemns cyber actors seeking to benefit from COVID-19 pandemic

The Foreign Secretary has called for an end to cyber attacks by hostile actors who are using the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as an opportunity to carry out malicious cyber activity, including targeting medical facilities around the world.

This follows a joint advisory by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and the US’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security agency (CISA) exposing malicious cyber campaigns targeting international healthcare and medical research organisations involved in the coronavirus response, and giving advice on how to stay safe online.

Attacks by state and non-state actors seeking to undermine the global response to this unprecedented global health crisis endanger lives. International law and the norms of responsible state behaviour must be respected and all states have an important role to play to help counter irresponsible activity being carried out by criminal groups in their countries. Our support for the most vulnerable extends to cyberspace.

The NCSC has advised staff at healthcare and medical research organisations to change and strengthen passwords that could be easily guessed and implement two-factor authentication to reduce the threat of compromises.

Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, said: “It is completely unacceptable that malicious cyber actors are targeting those working to overcome the coronavirus pandemic around the world, from experts working on the global health response to hospitals and healthcare systems.

“The effects of these cyber attacks are potentially life-threatening as they disrupt and put pressure on organisations and individuals working hard to save lives.

“The UK will continue to counter those who conduct reckless cyber attacks for their own malicious ends. We are working closely with our allies to hold the perpetrators to account and deter further malicious cyber activity around the world.”

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