Microsoft offers free cyber security protection to healthcare staff

The move comes after numerous hospitals became the target of cyber attacks

Microsoft has announced that its security service AccountGuard is now available for free to healthcare staff as well as human rights and humanitarian organizations.

The decision comes after numerous hospitals in Europe and the United States became the target of cyber attacks as healthcare workers deal with a dramatic influx of patients due to the coronavirus outbreak.

In a blog post detailing the decision, Microsoft’s Corporate VP Tom Burt thanked healthcare workers for their “truly heroic work” during the pandemic.

“Their work is challenging enough but is being made more difficult by cyberattacks, now or in the future,” he wrote. “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.”

Starting this week, AccountGuard will be available without any cost to “healthcare providers including hospitals, care facilities, clinics, labs and clinicians providing front line services as well as pharmaceutical, life sciences and medical devices companies that are researching, developing and manufacturing COVID-19-related treatments”.

Human rights and humanitarian organizations are also eligible for the free threat notification service, following an unsuccessful hacking attempt on the World Health Organisation (WHO) that occurred at the start of March.

WHO has since partnered with major tech firms to launch a global hackathon, with developers invited to support the COVID-19 fightback and businesses struggling through the pandemic.

“Both AccountGuard for Healthcare and AccountGuard for Human Rights Organizations will initially be available to organizations in the 29 countries where we already offer AccountGuard, subject to review of local laws and regulations, and we will be adding new countries based on need and local law”, said Burt.

“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.”

In order to find out more and sign up for free AccountGuard, healthcare organizations can visit the site linked here, while human rights and humanitarian organizations can sign up here.

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