A team of almost 400 cybersecurity experts have gathered in a coordinated bid to protect key communication networks, medical facilities and the computer systems of frontline responders from attack.
The move comes as a response to an increase in attempted cyberattacks on medical IT systems in the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic.
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As well as targeted attacks on infrastructure, the group is working to fend off a huge increase in phishing campaigns, which lure recipients into sharing personal information and login details for websites, bank accounts and other online services.
The newly formed group is called the COVID-19 CTI League and its near-400 members span more than 40 countries, reports Reuters. Members include senior cybersecurity professionals from major companies like Microsoft and Amazon. The group says it has already seen evidence of hacks against health organizations.
The League says on their website: "We are a community of CTI [Cyber Threat Intelligence] experts, incident responders and industry experts working to neutralize all cyber threats looking to exploit the current pandemic. We identify, analyze and neutralize all threats but at this most sensitive time are prioritizing front-line medical resources and critical infrastructure."
As well as protecting the medical frontline from attack, the group is also working to safeguard communications networks, which are under heavier load yet remain more crucial than ever, as millions of people work from home due to quarantine and self-isolation measures.
Examples of phishing attacks seen in recent days include text messages sent to British citizens, seemingly from the government, asking them to click a link and fill out a form to receive state-funded financial relief. No such messages are being sent, but the government is contacting millions of people to keep them updated with coronavirus information, hence the risk posed by legitimate-looking phishing messages.
Marc Rogers, one of four initial managers of the COVID-19 CTI League and based in San Francisco, told Reuters: "I've never seen this volume of phishing. I am literally seeing phishing messages in every language known to man."