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Coronavirus: Kaspersky, Bitdefender make products free to NHS

Kaspersky and Bitdefender have both made various products and services available free to healthcare customers as the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic intensifies

Security suppliers Kaspersky and Bitdefender have both announced free availability of various cyber security products and services to healthcare organisations struggling to cope with the Covid-19 coronavirus crisis.

Continuity of operations and data protection put constant pressure on the health service, but now that such organisations find themselves at the frontline of the global emergency, protecting critical systems has become even more of a priority than usual.

As previously reported by Computer Weekly, there has been no let-up in cyber criminal activity targeting hospitals and others operating in the healthcare industry since the crisis began. One victim, a UK-based medical research company, was attacked using Maze ransomware, breaking a promise by the group behind Maze not to attack healthcare organisations at this time.

In Kaspersky’s case, the offer extends to free availability of its core endpoint security product lines for six months. These include Kaspersky Endpoint Security Cloud Plus, Kaspersky Security for Microsoft Office 365, Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business Advanced, and Kaspersky Hybrid Cloud Security. Customers can contact their reseller or business partner, or Kaspersky itself.

Bitdefender, meanwhile, is making its enterprise-grade, end-to-end protection services available without charge to healthcare customers until the end of June 2020. Customers can find out more about its offer on its website.

“In this critical situation, healthcare institutions are under immense pressure and carry huge responsibility while saving people’s lives and fighting against the infection,” said Evgeniya Naumova, global sales network vice-president at Kaspersky. “Doctors, nurses and all medical staff take on most of the load and therefore need any support possible. We feel it is our duty to support the medical community.

“In order to help these organisations focus on what matters most, we now offer healthcare institutions free licences for key Kaspersky corporate products for a six-month period.”

Bitdefender CEO Florin Talpes said: “Hackers have acted opportunistically and unethically, taking advantage of this time of uncertainty to deliver malware, conduct phishing, and perform online fraud against the organisations affected most.

“We are thankful for the work of healthcare professionals worldwide and aim to support them by providing protection for their organisations’ sensitive information in a way that assures operational continuity and lets them focus on treating patients and slowing the spread of this virus.”

Read more about the NHS Covid-19 response

Even though doctors and nurses are under immense pressure, Kaspersky said it was still important for hospitals and healthcare organisations to follow basic cyber security best practice. End-users still need to be educated on security hygiene, covering passwords, how to spot phishing emails, and so on.

It is also the right time for NHS IT and security teams to thoroughly audit their existing protection systems, making sure they are patched and properly configured. Firewalls should be enabled and beefed up where possible, endpoints will need to be protected, especially those belonging to doctors and nurses, and particular attention should be paid to protecting systems from ransomware, to which hospitals especially are acutely vulnerable.

Perhaps most critically, any connected medical devices, such as ventilators, must be properly configured and updated, because any failures will be life-threatening.

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