Informatics

HIMSS Joins World Leaders in Calling for Prevention of Cyberattacks on Healthcare Sector

An overhead photo of a group of medical professionals standing in a small circle.

HIMSS CEO Hal Wolf has joined international leaders including Madeleine Albright, Desmond Tutu and Mohamed ElBaradei in calling on governments to prevent cyberattacks on the healthcare sector.

A letter published May 26 implores the world’s governments to take immediate and decisive action to prevent cyberattacks on hospitals, healthcare and research organizations, medical personnel and public health organizations that are providing critical care and guidance in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The letter is signed by more than 40 international leaders in government, healthcare, academia, international and non-governmental organizations. They demand governments work together to recommit to international rules that prohibit cyberattacks, to join forces with civil society and the private sector to ensure medical facilities are protected and to hold attackers accountable.

This effort follows recent cyberattacks against medical facilities, international organizations and other health authorities. The attacks have launched ransomware operations aimed at crippling care networks, and they have promoted disinformation campaigns to undermine the COVID-19 response. Cyberattacks like these interrupt healthcare and put additional costs on providers, and they underline the sector’s vulnerability.

HIMSS firmly believes safeguarding access to care should include protection from cyberattacks on individual patients, healthcare organizations and staff, and regional and national healthcare systems. Just as healthcare is protected in the physical space, it should also be protected in cyberspace. HIMSS supports the concept of conducting a Geneva Convention-like dialogue in an effort to protect digital healthcare from unwanted intrusion or attacks.

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