Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman today announced £500,000 in fresh government funding to help medical suppliers, primary care providers, and other businesses in the healthcare sector boost their cybersecurity.

The fresh government funding comes in response to the National Cyber Security Centre’s assessment that malicious actors are carrying out large-scale cyber campaigns targeting organisations involved in the coronavirus response, such as large-scale ‘password spraying’ campaigns against healthcare bodies and medical research organisations.

“Security officials have identified targeting of national and international healthcare bodies, pharmaceutical companies, research organisations, and local government with the likely aim of gathering information related to the coronavirus outbreak,” NCSC said.

Matt Warman MP said small and medium-sized businesses in the healthcare sector, such as medical suppliers and primary care providers, can apply for a slice of the new £500,000 funding to improve their cyber security.

Not only will the government cover all consultancy and certification costs, it will also offer guidance and support to small and medium-sized businesses in the healthcare sector to get accreditation from the government’s Cyber Essentials certification.

The government support will include training to make sure all phones, tablets, laptops or computers are kept up-to-date, proper firewall usage to secure devices’ internet connections, and user access controls to manage employee access to services.

“We know there is a heightened cyber threat for healthcare businesses at the moment so we are releasing new funding to help those playing a vital role in the pandemic response to remain resilient. I also urge all organisations to sign up to the government’s Cyber Essentials programme which contains a number of simple steps firms can take to get the fundamentals of good cyber security in place,” Warman said.

Commenting on the government’s new initiative for the healthcare sector, Anurag Kahol, CTO of Bitglass, said the rapid digitisation of patient records means it’s been very difficult to implement consistent data security policies and training schemes to educate staff on keeping data safe. As healthcare organisations make patient data more accessible to individuals and new systems, they must make information security their top priority.

“Strategic investments in cybersecurity will make a significant impact on protecting healthcare businesses against cyber security risks, which will potentially save billions in the long run. With this new funding, and by procuring cloud apps with a strong security track record and third-party tools to secure data in the cloud, healthcare organisations will be able to improve their ability to protect medical records and allow them to focus on their core competency – delivering care services,” he added.