CHICAGO — Responding to a spike in cyber threats that exploit telework technologies during the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Hospital Association (AHA) have teamed to provide physicians and hospitals with guidance on protecting a remote work environment from cyber criminals.

The two leading associations have created a joint cybersecurity resource, Working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic (PDF), offering actions to strengthen home or hospital -based computers, networks, and medical devices from the rise in COVID-19-themed security threats and attacks. The resource includes checklists, sources, tips and advice on strengthening protections to keep pace with deceptive cyberattacks that could disrupt patient care or threaten medical records and other data.

“Amid increased reports of malicious cyber activity, some physicians and care teams are working from their homes and relying on technologies to support physical distancing measures while ensuring availability of care to those who need it,” said AMA President Patrice A. Harris, M.D., M.A. “For physicians helping patients from their homes and using personal computers and mobile devices, the AMA and AHA have moved quickly to provide a resource with important steps to help keep a home office as resilient to viruses, malware and hackers as a medical practice or hospital.”

On April 1, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) released a public advisory noting that more than 1,200 complaints related to COVID-19 scams were received at its Internet Crime Complaint Center. According to the FBI, “in recent weeks, cyber actors have engaged in phishing campaigns against first responders,…deployed ransomware at medical facilities, and created fake COVID-19 websites that quietly download malware to victim devices. Based on recent trends, the FBI assesses these same groups will target businesses and individuals working from home via telework software vulnerabilities, education technology platforms, and new Business Email Compromise schemes.”

The new cybersecurity guide joins a growing list of essential tools and resources as the AMA continues to supply all physicians with comprehensive guidance needed for patient care as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves. Stay informed and updated on clinical information, guides, advocacy and medical ethics by connecting with the AMA COVID-19 Resource Center.

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Robert J. Mills

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About the American Medical Association

The American Medical Association is the physicians’ powerful ally in patient care. As the only medical association that convenes 190+ state and specialty medical societies and other critical stakeholders, the AMA represents physicians with a unified voice to all key players in health care.  The AMA leverages its strength by removing the obstacles that interfere with patient care, leading the charge to prevent chronic disease and confront public health crises and, driving the future of medicine to tackle the biggest challenges in health care.

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