NTT has offered to provide cyber security services to hospitals battling Covid-19 in Singapore at no cost, in response to increased attacks targeting the healthcare sector.
Aligned to World Health Day on 7 April, the global system integrator said cyber security incident response support is now available free of charge to "qualifying hospitals" for 60 days if an incident occurs, with the city-state included alongside the UK and Ireland, Europe, North America and Australia.
Despite a lack of clarity on what meets the criteria of a “qualifying hospital”, the service will first include a security assessment, followed by remote deployment of NTT’s incident response tools, alongside a focus on containment and remediation of the attack.
“Unfortunately malicious actors are launching cyber attacks that attempt to exploit panic, security vulnerabilities, and the fact that our hospitals are already under huge pressure,” said Matt Gyde, president and CEO of Security Division at NTT. “Hospitals across the globe need help to be able to respond to threats quickly as they carry out their hugely important work in the fight against coronavirus.”
Citing the provider’s Monthly Threat Report, Gyde said the market has witnessed a “significant increase” in cyber attacks in the wake of Covid-19, as hackers seek to exploit coronavirus-related panic, alongside vulnerabilities created by an increase in remote working.
Recent attacks have included information-stealing malware built into a fake World Health Organisation (WHO) information app, while phishing emails have offered in-demand items including face masks, hand sanitiser and coronavirus tests. High-profile attacks have also been launched against hospitals and a Covid-19 test centre.
“Hospitals in particular have experienced a wave of threats, at the exact time that their resources are focused on saving lives and handling an overflow of patients,” Gyde added. “Ransomware, encrypting applications and files until a ransom is paid, has been the main threat, along with attempts to steal financial information and patient medical records.”
Delving deeper, and according to findings, phishing attacks continue to be the most-widely employed tactic across the board from a Covid-19 standpoint.
“Cyber criminals continue to use the branding of trusted organisations in these campaigns, especially WHO and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in order to build credibility and get users to open attachments or click on the link,” explained Jon Heimerl, senior manager of Global Threat Intelligence Centre at NTT. “This month saw a hack attempt on the WHO, which will likely elicit further phishing and domain hijacking.”
As a result, Heimerl cautioned that Covid-19 will continue to be used as a lure by hackers - especially since around 2,000 coronavirus-themed websites are created every day - and likely will be for the duration of the pandemic.
In addition, new versions of such lures which target new countries will emerge - even as the world goes into recovery mode - using subjects such as ‘Covid Cure’ or ‘Covid Resurgence’.
“Covid-19 has generated a sprawling web of cyber security risks,” Heimerl added. “But this story, of course, is not just a news story that criminals are using as fodder for phishing emails.
“The world is reaching into unknown territory – like new telecommuters, financial market uncertainty, not knowing exactly how to react to new social and physical restrictions. These are all things that most have never had to think about, let alone adjust to, in organisational environments.
“And, as the number of Covid-19 cases and publicity rises globally, we expect to see that both cyber criminals and possible nation-state actors will increasingly exploit this global crisis."
Running 10 security operation centres globally, the cyber arm of NTT houses more than 2000 specialists, backed by an annual research and development investment of more than $100 million. Through scanning more than 600 billion events on a monthly basis, the division has successfully analysed over two million attacks, with 75 per cent of threats detected supervised by machine learning and threat intelligence.