Tom Burt – Corporate Vice President, Customer Security & Trust of Microsoft announced that Microsoft is making its AccountGuard threat notification service available at no cost to healthcare providers on the front lines as well as human rights and humanitarian organizations around the world.
Burt said that their work is challenging enough but is being made more difficult by cyberattacks, now or in the future.
Burt announced that Microsoft took this step after several reports about cyberattacks impacting workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 fight. News reports have shown recent criminal or nation-state attacks targeting Brno University Hospital in the Czech Republic, Paris’ hospital system, the computer systems of Spain’s hospitals, hospitals in Thailand, medical clinics in the U.S. state of Texas, a healthcare agency in the U.S. state of Illinois and even international bodies such as the World Health Organization.
Some attacks, such as the one on Brno University Hospital, have resulted in delays in COVID-19 testing, new patients being turned away and treatments being postponed. Others, such as the attack in Illinois, have held up access to critical COVID-19-related healthcare guidance.
He added that teams at Microsoft have also detected and responded to attacks targeting the healthcare sector in many countries. In addition, Burt said Microsoft’s threat intelligence teams have identified nation-state attacks against human rights organizations around the world for some time, both prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Microsoft AccountGuard monitors nation-state threat actors targeting enterprise mailboxes and the personal email accounts of employees or volunteers who opt in. This gives Microsoft’s threat intelligence teams a broad view of the avenues attackers typically use and when such activity targeting an organization enrolled in AccountGuard is noticed, Microsoft notifies them immediately so they can take steps to stop an attack or root out the attacker. AccountGuard has previously been available to political campaigns, parties, members of the U.S. Congress and democracy-focused non-profits. Nearly 100,000 email accounts in 29 countries are enrolled in AccountGuard.
In addition to making AccountGuard available to those working directly in the healthcare field, Microsoft made its availability of AccountGuard for worldwide human rights and humanitarian organizations focused on protecting the rights of people impacted by COVID-19 whether it’s supporting hospitals in conflict zones, amplifying the voices of medical professionals, helping to ensure elections are conducted safely in new ways or helping children who are out of school.
In many instances, nation-states and cyber criminals use attacks to gain intelligence on these organizations and the people who these groups protect, or to disrupt their work.
Both AccountGuard for Healthcare and AccountGuard for Human Rights Organizations will initially be available to organizations in the 29 countries where Microsoft already offers AccountGuard, subject to review of local laws and regulations, and will be adding new countries based on need and local law.
AccountGuard is available to organizations using Office 365 for business email and extends additional security to the personal accounts of their front line workers who use Microsoft’s consumer email services such as Outlook.com and Hotmail.
Read more via Microsoft