A handful of U.S. senators have called on top cybersecurity officials to aggressively protect health and research organizations from potential hacking and other attacks while the country battles the corona virus pandemic. In a letter https://www.blumenthal.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/2020.04.20%20-%20CISA%20and%20CC%20-%20Coronavirus%20Cybersecurity%20-%20FINAL.pdf sent on Monday Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, Republican Senator Tom Cotton, and three other senators asked the Department of Homeland Security and US Cyber Command to consider action against hackers who threatened healthcare.
“We urge you to take all necessary measures to protect these institutions during the coronavirus pandemic,” they wrote in a letter to Christopher Krebs, the director of the Cyber Security and Infrastructure Security Agency. DHS, and General Paul Nakasone, director of the Ministry of Defense. National Security Agency and Chief of the United States Cyber Command. The letter urged officials to consider “defending forward” – a phrase often used as euphemism for hacking.
DHS, Cyber Command and the NSA declined to comment on the letter. Cyber security concerns are bubbling in the background as the new coronavirus spreads around the world. Some cybersecurity experts have warned that hacker success rates are increasing amid economic turmoil and changing work patterns as a result of the outbreak.
Reuters has recently documented attempts by state-backed groups to hack the World Health Organization. Last week, a senior FBI official warned that sophisticated hackers were also targeting U.S. research institutions involved in coronavirus treatments. At least some of the steps requested in the letter, such as issuing guidelines and publicly summoning malicious actors, are already underway.
DHS and other government agencies have worked to raise awareness of digital threats resulting from the outbreak. Last week, a coalition of several US government agencies issued a joint opinion on North Korean cyber operations.
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