Healthcare providers are pressed to the max, working to deliver ample care to the increasing volume of patients infected with COVID-19. Employees rise to the challenge and learn to get the job done in vastly different circumstances, be it on the front lines, in the back office, or remotely.
While we all try to navigate the new realities this pandemic presents, computer hackers are exploiting them: “Don’t let a crisis go to waste” is their mantra. Indeed, the novel coronavirus crisis has led to a rise in cyber scams and other security breaches as healthcare providers move quickly to redistribute workloads and manage care overflow.
Hackers are using tactics that capitalize on emotions of fear and anxiety and behaviors of internet users looking to stay on top of the situation during these uncertain times. They entice healthcare workers to open malicious files and links by:
- Creating a sense of urgency.
- Implying or stating that the e-mail comes from a person of authority.
- Offering a resolution to a difficult problem (the current virus, shortage of medical supplies, people in need, and similar) in exchange for sensitive information.
These tactics are especially effective during a time of crisis, when urgent communications from employers, friends, family, and government agencies are filling inboxes. These e-mails may include fake virus tracker maps, hand hygiene instructional sheets, or online marketplaces for high-demand items. Hackers have impersonated the World Health Organization (WHO), for example, in recent phishing emails.
As is the case with security at any other time, employees are the first line of defense against cyberattacks that are predicated by false communication.
By Troy Young is chief technology officer of AdvancedMD of South Jordan, UT.