World Leaders Call on Governments to Stop Cyberattacks Plaguing Healthcare Systems
Today, the President and the CEO of the CyberPeace Institute, Marietje Schaake and Stéphane Duguin, joined Madeleine Albright, Desmond Tutu, and Mohamed ElBaradei Among More Than Forty International Leaders Calling on All Governments to Work Together to Stop Attacks Hampering Hospitals and International Organizations Fighting COVID-19
GENEVA, Switzerland – May 26, 2020 – Today more than 40 former and current international leaders from across government, industry, international and non-governmental organizations and academia have called on the world’s governments to take immediate and decisive action to prevent and stop cyberattacks that target hospitals, healthcare, research organizations, and international authorities providing critical care and guidance in the midst of the ongoing global pandemic. The signatories demand that governments work together, including at the United Nations, to reaffirm and recommit to international rules that prohibit such actions, and to join forces with civil society and the private sector, to ensure that medical facilities are respected and protected, and to hold attackers accountable.
The call follows cyberattacks in recent weeks against medical facilities, including in the Czech Republic, France, Spain, Thailand, and the United States, international organizations such as the World Health Organizations, and other health authorities. These attacks range from ransomware operations aimed at crippling primary and urgent care networks in exchange for payouts to disinformation campaigns aimed at undermining and disrupting wider elements of the response to the pandemic, including testing and vaccine research facilities. Where successful, these attacks have interrupted the provision of healthcare and put additional costs on healthcare providers. They underline the vulnerability of this sector to cyberattacks at a time when medical care is needed more than ever.
“We’re in the midst of the most urgent health crisis in modern history, and these attacks threaten all of humanity,” said Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross and signatory of the call. “We must take action collectively to ensure this threat is addressed, and already fragile health care systems, particularly in countries affected by war and violence are not put at further risk by cyber operations.”
The Call to Action comes against the background of important discussions on cyber stability and cyber-attacks against healthcare facilities in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, including in the United Nations Security Council and two United Nations General Assembly-mandated cyber processes.
“As healthcare professionals are protecting us in the real world, it is up to civil society, industry and governments to collectively act for their protection in cyberspace”, said Stéphane Duguin, Chief Executive Officer at the CyberPeace Institute. “In this effort, humanity needs governments to work together by setting the tone and the example, to ensure healthcare is protected, and perpetrators are held accountable.”
Additional notable signatories include former Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov; former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad Al Hussein; former Director General of the World Health Organization Margaret Chan; former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo; and Microsoft President Brad Smith. The signatories also include 7 Nobel Prize Laureates.
The letter, which is featured today in full-page print advertisements in The New York Times and The Guardian, specifically calls on all governments to take immediate action including by asserting unequivocally that cyber operations against healthcare facilities are unlawful and unacceptable and to work with each other, with civil society and with the private sector, to ensure that medical facilities are respected and protected.
Full list of signatories:
Dapo Akande, Professor of Public International Law, University of Oxford
Madeleine Albright, Former Secretary of State, United States
José María Álvarez-Pallete López, Chairman & CEO, Telefónica
Ban Ki-moon, Former Secretary General of the United Nations
Lakhdar Brahimi, Former Foreign Minister, Algeria
John Bruton, Former Taoiseach, Ireland
Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Former President, Brazil
Margaret Chan, Former Director-General, World Health Organization
Eva Chen, Chief Executive Officer, Trend Micro
Stéphane Duguin, Chief Executive Officer, CyberPeace Institute
Mohamed ElBaradei, Former Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (Nobel Peace Prize Laureate)
Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (Nobel Peace Prize Laureate)
Mikhail Gorbachev, Former President, Soviet Union (Nobel Peace Prize Laureate)*
Gro Harlem Brundtland, Former Director General, World Health Organization
Zhixiong Huang, Professor of International Law, Wuhan University
Igor Ivanov, Former Foreign Minister, Russia
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Former President, Liberia (Nobel Peace Prize Laureate)
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