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Fears mount over cyber-attacks against Czech hospitals and healthcare sector

Prague, Czech Republic – As the Czech Republic continues to focus all its attention on the fight against coronavirus, several cyber attacks against Czech hospitals over the past few days have sparked growing concerns in the country and beyond.

Czech hospitals hit by cyber attacks amid Covid-19 crisis

More than a week ago, the Brno University Hospital, which operates one of the biggest coronavirus testing laboratories in the Czech Republic, was hit by a cyber attack which brought down the facility’s computer network and severely hampered the hospital’s functioning and operations during the following day.

Although assuring that the testing of Covid-19 wasn’t affected by the attack, hospital director Jaroslav Sterba cautioned that restoring the hospital to its full capacity could take several weeks and that several surgeries had to be postponed.

A few days later, the Teaching Hospital in the north-eastern Czech city of Ostrava announced that it had managed to thwart a cyber-attack against its computer network, the second in only a few days, while the Karlovy Vary Regional Hospital also had to repel an attempted infiltration of its digital networks.

Czech cyber-security agency warns of growing threat

Addressing the growing cyber-threat against the Czech Republic’s hospital network and healthcare sector, the National Office for Cyber and Information Security (NUKIB) issued a stark warning earlier this week, along with a set of recommendations to deflect potential attacks in the future.

The Czech cyber-security agency noted that computers systems of hospitals and a number of other strategic targets could be at risk. Health Minister Adam Vojtech told journalist on Saturday that although all the cyber-attacks against Czech facilities had for now been deflected, the risk remains high.

“The threat is serious, we do not underestimate it. All we can do right now is prepare for it”, Vojtech stressed, adding that authorities haven’t yet identified the origin or motive behind these repeated attacks.

U.S. Secretary of State expresses “concerns” over attacks against Czech hospitals

On Friday, the U.S. Department of States issued a statement expressing its concerns over the cyber-threats faced by the Czech Republic.

“We call upon the actor in question to refrain from carrying out disruptive malicious cyber activity against the Czech Republic’s healthcare system or similar infrastructure elsewhere. We also call upon states not to turn a blind eye to criminal or other organizations carrying out such activity from their territory”, the statement read.

“The U.S. has zero tolerance for malicious cyber activity. Such actions will have stark consequences”, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted.

Headed by Kafkadesk's chief-editor Jules Eisenchteter, our Prague office gathers over half a dozen reporters, editors and contributors, as well as our social media team. It covers everything Czech and Slovak-related, and oversees operations from our other Central European desks in Krakow and Budapest.