Metro Health joins effort to combat pandemic-era increase in cyberattacks

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Metro Health-University of Michigan Health announced it joined a partnership of cybersecurity experts working 24/7 to protect patients and employees from scams and information theft.

The Michigan Healthcare Security Operations Center launched in 2018 as the first collective of its kind in the nation. Mi|HSOC brings together leading IT security experts from Michigan Medicine, Beaumont Health, Munson Healthcare, the Michigan Health & Hospital Association, and security company CyberForce|Q.

Metro Health already puts a high priority on protecting sensitive data, said John Weller, Metro Health’s chief information security officer. Mi|HSOC adds a layer of protection with a collaborative approach that can support other organizations.

“Cybercriminals see the pandemic as an opportunity, something they can exploit for new scams and theft,” Weller said. “We’re taking a proactive approach to address this threat head-on.”

Intelligence agencies, technology companies and security firms have warned of an alarming increase in cybercrime during the disruption of COVID-19. In August, Interpol reported attackers increasingly were targeting critical health infrastructure.

Malicious activities include attempts to infiltrate networks and using ransomware to lock up information until large payments are made. Criminals have used COVID-19 “phishing” emails to trick recipients into sharing network credentials. Some have developed fraudulent websites to capitalize on the high demand for personal protective equipment. Others devise data-stealing malware.

“All health organizations face these threats, which is why the cooperative nature of Mi|HSOC is so effective”, said Eric Eder, founder of CyberForce|Q. “Our unique approach is guided by health care leaders and enhances cybersecurity capability for participant organizations that serve patients from the largest cities to the smallest towns.”

Metro Health previously achieved HIMSS Level 7 status, the most prestigious distinction in electronic medical record technology, privacy and security.

“Metro Health understands the importance of the diligence needed to protect the information of our patients and community,” said Joshua Wilda, chief information officer of Metro Health-University of Michigan Health. “Health care organizations like ours need to combat cyberthreats with our network of dedicated collaborative entities to address the best possible ways of protecting our information. “

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