As the novel coronavirus crisis continues, a cybersecurity firm has started offering free help to healthcare providers that fall victim to cryptocurrency-demanding ransomware.

According to an announcement on March 18, cybersecurity firm Emsisoft partnered with incident response company Coveware to allow free access to ransomware-related services at no cost to healthcare providers.

The initiative aims to get the impacted organizations operational in the shortest time possible to reduce the impact on patient care to a minimum.

“A perfect storm”

According to the firm, ransomware attacks have a seasonal aspect with the number of incidents spiking during the spring and summer months.

Emsisoft also suggests that this year, the spike could be more pronounced than usual due to potential system vulnerabilities introduced by the hastily-introduced remote work environments and staffing shortages.

Brett Callow, an Emsisoft threat analyst told Cointelegraph that, in the vast majority of ransomware incidents, the attack vector is an email or an improperly secured remote access solution, adding:

“We’re anticipating an increase in ransomware incidents which could be significantly in excess of the typical seasonal spikes and, unfortunately, may coincide with COVID-19’s peak. A perfect storm.”

At the end of last year, Emsisoft released a report claiming that in 2019, at least 764 healthcare providers were impacted by ransomware. Now, the firm suggests that with the ongoing pandemic such attacks “could tip the balance and result in a significant loss of life.”

Chart of ransomware cases reported per month. Source: Emsisoft

Chart of ransomware cases reported per month. Source: Emsisoft

Since the stakes are higher than usual, the firms will offer technical analysis of ransomware and decryption tool development for free. As a last resort, the free services also include ransom negotiation, transaction handling and post-ransom payment data recovery management with a custom decryption tool.

Ransowmare’s relationship with Bitcoin

Ransomware is a growing risk in an economy that is becoming ever-more dependent on technology for providing goods and services. In a recent meeting, the United States Senate examined new measures to enhance the homeland security cybersecurity measures, including addressing ransomware.

Recently, a group of particularly opportunistic hackers started spreading ransomware by claiming that the software they are sending provides information on the spread of the coronavirus.