By now, cyberattacks should come as no surprise to any self respecting news junkie. However, every now and again, a story comes along that rattles even the most calloused cyber news reader. Attacks on healthcare organisations, for me at least, never fail to strike a chord.
The recent attacks on NHS service provider Adastra and a 320 bed French hospital invoked in me a deep feeling of injustice. I’ve been in this job for six months now, I thought the days of reacting emotionally to a story were long gone. Apparently not.
I suppose my issue is that cyberattacks of this nature are, essentially, cybercriminals punching down. While all cybercrime is immoral and illegal, typical cyberattacks target huge, multinational corporations – guys that can take the hit. An attack on a hospital, private or otherwise, affects people at their lowest. An attack on the sick and wounded in a physical war would be a breach of the Geneva Convention, how is it that cybercriminals are breaking international law with reckless abandon, purely for their own financial gain?
To my eye, the ability to carry out even the most reprehensible of crimes from a computer screen has allowed criminals to remove themselves from the consequences of their actions. Of course, cybercriminals aren’t the most ethical bunch at the best of times, but I struggle to believe that they would be willing to endanger the lives of vulnerable people in the physical realm.
I accept that this can’t be true for all cybercriminals, there are some genuine sociopaths out there. But there’s just something so cowardly about using hospitalised people as pawns in the deplorable high stakes chess match currently being played in the cybersphere. I struggle to reconcile that with my idea of human nature. I can only conclude that the total ignorance of consequences that cybercrime allows has spawned a new breed of criminal – the line between fantasy and reality is so thin that people now commit crimes without even considering its wider impacts. These aren’t have-a-go heroes, these are have-a-go villains.