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DiData offers COVID-19 hospitals free cyber incident response

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Tony Walt, Dimension Data executive for security.
Tony Walt, Dimension Data executive for security.

Systems integrator Dimension Data, in conjunction with parent company NTT, announced yesterday it is offering free incident response (IR) for cyber security attacks aimed at South African hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This as reports emerged that hospitals on the COVID-19 frontline are facing “double extortion” cyber threats since the outbreak.

In an interview with ITWeb, Dimension Data’s Tony Walt, managing executive for security, said hospitals around the world are coming under repeated attacks during the current pandemic crisis.

“They’re being hit by all sorts of cyber attacks like ransomware and malware. Threat actors thrive in times of crisis and chaos, and see hospitals as the epicentre of this crisis and would seek to leverage and take advantage for their own benefit. We will not comment on breaches that have occurred. But it is sad when the most critical become the most vulnerable.

“As part of our commitment to assisting in the COVID-19 fight, we’re offering services that would normally cost between R150 000 to R250 000 per invocation. It also depends on the extent of the IT estate as well as the extent of the breach. This service is being offered for free in conjunction with our parent company NTT,” he adds.

This service has already been deployed globally across North America, Europe, UK, Ireland, Australia and Singapore. “We hope to be able to extend it to additional countries in the Middle East and Africa as we assess the extent of invocation.”

According to Walt, cyber criminals focus their energies on where they find chaos. “The objective is to cause more pain and chaos with the objective of extracting ransoms. These hospitals are having to adapt to a new way of working which could potentially expose vulnerabilities in the security posture, leaving opportunity for threat actors to take advantage.

“It is also shown that during times of crisis, vigilance is reduced and more people are likely to take risks if there is a promise in one form or another of getting out of the crisis sooner. So opening attachments, by way of example, that lure people with subjects such as ‘new lockdown restrictions’, or ‘COVID-19 update in relation to…’ are more likely to happen during this time.”

Walt notes Dimension Data is reaching out to all its clients as well as hospitals that are not necessarily customers.

“We simply want to make all of these hospitals aware that we have created this facility and that should they require the service they know whom to contact.”

According to Walt, the service would be a contracted for and specific scope of work which would be facilitated remotely.

“Our engineers will remotely assess the extent of the compromise, triage in order to get business resumption as quickly as possible and provide additional guidance for increasing the overall security posture.

“Our role is to get the frontline, doctors and nurses as well as all supporting functions trying to work in a compromised hospital back to saving lives as quickly as possible. That is our sole objective.”

This offer is available to hospitals actively treating COVID-19 patients, Walt notes. “We recognise the immense strain they’re under and want to ensure they can stay on the frontlines of this virus by providing business resumption through active remediation as quickly as possible.”

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