A crack team of cybersecurity experts in 65 countries has come together to combat ransomware attacks on hospitals during the coronavirus crisis.

Calling themselves the COVID-19 CTI League the community of experts aims to protect the technological infrastructure of front-line medical resources from cyberattacks.

Hospitals around the world have seen a big increase in cyberattacks over the past year, in which critical IT systems are encrypted with malware. Gangs demand a Bitcoin ransom in return for the decryption key. Hospitals are often seen as soft targets, due to ageing IT infrastructure and a willingness to pay due to the critical nature of their work.

Cointelegraph reported on March 30 that Ryuk ransomware continues to target hospitals and healthcare providers based in the United States.

Fighting against cyber attacks during the pandemic

The founder of the project, Ohad Zaidenberg, is based in Israel, while other members of the management team include Nate Warfield, Chris Mills, and Marc Rogers, who are based in the United States.

Zaidenberg told Cointelegraph the League now has collaborators around the globe and that protecting hospitals was a critical need at this time:

“Since the coronavirus crisis came out, I understood that attacking against the medical sector is a game-changer that can cause death. I decided to create a community of cybersecurity experts that want to spend their free time and to use their abilities to protect the medical sector. With my friends in the management team, we prove the real power of the infosec community. It gave us so much power to keep doing our job — to save a life.”

Cryptocurrencies and ransomware attacks

Earlier this month cybersecurity firm Emsisoft and incident response company Coveware also announced an initiative offering free ransomware decryption tools and assistance to health care providers in the event of an attack.

The Emsisoft company blog implored ransomware crews to think twice before attacking healthcare organizations.

“Make no mistake, an attack on a healthcare organization will have negative outcomes and may result in the loss of life. We ask for your empathy and cooperation. Please do not target healthcare providers during the coming months and, if you target one unintentionally, please provide them with the decryption key at no cost as soon as you possibly can. We’re all in this together, right?”