How a hospital ransomware attack created a global cyber alliance

The Cyber Alliance to Defend our Healthcare uses Collective Defense to protect vulnerable healthcare organizations

For all intents and purposes, healthcare organizations are functioning in warlike conditions. Not only are they committed to their duties to treat the influx of COVID-19 patients, but also must defend the physical safety of their practitioners while also, incredulously, fighting the unseen battles of cyber attacks. Waves of unscrupulous cyber actors are taking advantage of the pandemic to exploit these organizations, and their patients and staff, when they are most vulnerable. 

As CEO of C5 Capital — an investment firm dedicated to nurturing a secure digital future — I have seen firsthand the tremendous impact of Collective Defense to protect healthcare organizations and their workers against cyber attacks during the pandemic. 

Allow me to tell our story…

It started in March when my cousin called to say the hospital where she works in London was under ransomware attack. Hackers had locked down the intensive care unit to extort a massive ransom from the hospital and the British healthcare system. Until the money was paid, all hospital systems and devices — some of which belonged to employees — would remain locked, preventing patients from receiving the care they so desperately needed. 

At the same time, my cousin had been advised as a frontline healthcare worker to draft her will, given the dire outlook of the pandemic. To see her and her colleagues face a ransomware attack under such horrific circumstances was simply unbearable to watch. We soon recognized the problem spanned the entire healthcare sector, so we decided to take action. 

The Cyber Alliance to Defend Our Healthcare

In response to cyber threats amplified by COVID-19, we created the Cyber Alliance to Defend Our Healthcare, a volunteer organization of cyber professionals formed to protect healthcare workers at our hospitals and clinics as they face the escalating threat of cyber attack. As investors in, and advocates of, IronNet’s collective defense mission and capabilities of IronDome, C5 Capital has established an IronDome to protect hospitals, clinics, and healthcare workers worldwide. C5 works with ITC Secure as the service provider of the Collective Defense solution.

Collective Defense is ideal for digitally transformed hospitals, which have a plethora of connected medical devices and IT infrastructure that present a diverse and widespread attack surface. At the same time, many hospitals and clinics are underfunded and unable to defend themselves against increasingly sophisticated cyber actors. Add the potentially lethal nature of ransomware attacks when lives are on the line and the need for collective defense becomes clear.

With Collective Defense from IronDome, all data that flows anonymously through participating hospitals and clinics is analyzed in real-time to search for suspicious activity. Whenever a suspicious threat is detected, preventative action is taken across the network of hospitals, all the way down the supply chain, to block the attack before it occurs. 

This collaborative approach has completely changed the nature of cybersecurity at these hospitals. Not only does it make them stronger against attack; it also gives employees at these hospitals confidence that they can rely on the systems and the integrity of the systems — and that they are protected. 

Coming together for the health of the future

I am proud to report that more than 30 cybersecurity companies from across the US and Europe are working together in the Cyber Alliance to Defend Healthcare to stop cyber attacks in the healthcare sector. It’s both wonderful and uplifting to see people step forward to help others in a time of crisis. 

The Cyber Alliance currently defends healthcare organizations across the US, UK, and Europe, with interest building in Africa and Asia. Eventually, we intend to go global. 

With IronDome, companies like IronNet are helping to change the nature of cybersecurity and ways to protect patient data and safety. And with its continued support, and the help of the entire Cyber Alliance, we’re determined to end the scourge of cyber attacks against the healthcare sector, and build a stronger future together. 

For more on the Cyber Alliance to Defend our Healthcare and its use of Collective Defense to protect the healthcare sector, watch the on-demand webinar: Funding resilience: A VC’s view on the optimistic future of healthcare and cyber.