The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) this week publicly condemned the malicious cyber-activities directed against COVID-19 responders.
Ever since the coronavirus pandemic started hitting countries worldwide, cybercriminals and nation-states have been leveraging the crisis to conduct malicious activities, and the number of attacks leveraging COVID-19 themes has increased thousands of times since February.
Over the past couple of months, there has been a surge in attacks targeting those who work in response to the pandemic. Last month, the United States and the United Kingdom issued an alert on government-sponsored attacks on healthcare bodies, pharmaceutical companies, academia, medical research organizations, and local governments.
Now, a month later, the North Atlantic Council issued a public statement condemning the “destabilizing and malicious cyber activities” targeting entities critical to the response against the COVID-19 pandemic, such as healthcare services, hospitals and research institutes.
“These deplorable activities and attacks endanger the lives of our citizens at a time when these critical sectors are needed most, and jeopardize our ability to overcome the pandemic as quickly as possible,” NATO said.
The organization also declared its support to those affected by malicious cyber-activities, noting it would remain ready to assist allies in their response to cyber incidents that affect essential services, including through the sharing of information.
“In line with their national responsibilities and competences, Allies are committed to protecting their critical infrastructure, building resilience and bolstering cyber defences, including through full implementation of NATO’s Cyber Defence Pledge,” the North Atlantic Council stated.
NATO also underlined its focus on cyber-defense, reaffirming commitment to use available capabilities to defend against and counter cyber threats, and to continue adapting to the cyber threat landscape, where both state and non-state actors operate, including those that are government-sponsored.
“We all stand to benefit from a rules-based, predictable, open, free, and secure cyberspace. NATO reiterates that international law applies in cyberspace and must be respected. All states have an important role to play in promoting and upholding voluntary norms of responsible state behavior and in countering destabilizing and malicious cyber activities,” NATO concludes.