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Documentary Exposes Healthcare Cybercrime Surge
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Hacking The Pandemic

A new documentary reveals healthcare cybercrime surge amid COVID-19

Every day we become more and more reliant on digital tools and systems for everything we do. It is an unavoidable truth of the contemporary age that the world we live in is deeply digitally interwoven with reality. As we relinquish more and more of ourselves to this new paradigm – we rarely stop to consider what the overall consequences might be for the long term.

Unfortunately, there are those that see this as a golden opportunity to exploit our vulnerabilities and naiveté. Cybercriminals are constantly hunting for easy prey, those that leave themselves open for exploitation and there’s no easier prey than those distracted trying to manage a crisis.

A global pandemic is a ripe hunting ground for the cyber hunter. With institutions and governments distracted as they lean-in on their (often outdated) digital systems to coordinate a counterstrike against the virus, opportunity presents itself.

Over the last few months, the creators of hacker:HUNTER Ha(ck)cine (a two part documentary by Kaspersky) spoke to hospitals, law enforcement agencies, health organisations and research centres around the world, to create a unique picture of how the healthcare system faced a hi-tech threat during the pandemic in the mode of cyberattacks and malware.

The documentary reveals the shocking surge in cyber-intrusions on healthcare during the COVID-19 global pandemic. It takes the audience to the frontline of targeted attacks on the World Health Organization, which has reported a fivefold increase in cyber-offences on its systems since March.

While state-sponsored hackers are locked in a battle for biodata, cybercriminals and gangs are taking advantage of the global chaos. Though healthcare has always been a target for hackers, attacks have soared amid the pandemic, as hospitals become more willing than usual to pay ransom fees.

This is happening all over the world. In March, for example, the Czech Republic’s Brno University Hospital (responsible for running a big share of the country’s COVID-19 testing), was held to ransom and forced to shut down its IT network at a critical time of need.

But while the global pandemic has sparked a surge in cybercriminal activity, it has also been met with an incredible response from the cybersecurity community. Cyber-volunteers created CV19 – a 3,000-strong group working tirelessly to provide hospitals and healthcare institutions at every part of the supply chain, with free support to protect their systems. With each sector doing their bit to give back during a global crisis, this is the cybersecurity community’s crucial contribution to help the healthcare heroes do their jobs.

‘hacker:HUNTER Ha(ck)cine’ explores this new underground world of crime and the sentries that are protecting us behind the scenes. British Director Didi Mae Hand remarks of the experience:

“I was blown away by the passion and dedication of the cybersecurity community to help get the public through this pandemic – to keep systems and the free flow of scientific and medical services running in the face of overwhelming challenges and attacks. The willingness of our busy, high profile contributors to share their time, experience and stories, and the talented crew to adapt and rise to the challenges of remote filming transformed what should have been a difficult film to make, into a fascinating and rewarding experience. There’s been so much going on behind the scenes, I’m excited for people to see the film and shine a light on the incredible work of the cyber-community during a really challenging year. We saw so much solidarity, so much interest by all our contributors, who really did everything they could to make this film happen. It was impressive!”

The film was produced by Max Peltz as part of the hacker:HUNTER series created by Hugo Berkeley. Catch the first 20-minute episode on YouTube now and the following in October:

  • hacker:HUNTER Ha(ck)cine: Defending the Cure’, premiers on 2nd October at 5PM CEST and discusses how the World Health Organisation and research centres suddenly came under attack as soon as the COVID-19 pandemic started.

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