Microsoft makes its advanced account protection free for healthcare workers

AccountGuard will notify customers when it detects a cyber attack.

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Healthcare providers in personal protective equipment.
Microsoft

As if fighting the coronavirus pandemic weren’t challenging enough, cybercriminals are making things more difficult for healthcare providers and humanitarian groups. Attacks have already delayed COVID-19 testing and limited access to related healthcare guidance. So today, Microsoft is extending its AccountGuard service to healthcare providers and human rights and humanitarian organizations at no cost.

Typically aimed at politicians and their staff, AccountGuard notifies customers when Microsoft detects an attack and provides guidance on stopping it. The service will be available to these new groups until the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, Microsoft said in an announcement. It’s currently available in 29 countries, and it’s available to organizations using Office 365 for business email. It also offers additional security to personal accounts of front line workers who use services like Outlook.com and Hotmail.

In addition to hospitals and clinics, care facilities, labs, clinicians and pharmaceutical, life sciences and medical device companies, can all sign up for the extended AccountGuard coverage. Through a pilot program, human rights organizations like Amnesty International, CyberPeace and Freedom House have already enrolled in the program. Healthcare organizations can sign up here, and human rights and humanitarian groups can sign up here.

Microsoft warns that most of the attacks on healthcare organizations during the coronavirus pandemic have been executed through email. Attacker often disguise malicious content as a message from an authority or medical equipment provider in order to obtain a person’s credentials or spread malware. Microsoft has also shared a guide to avoiding phishing attacks.

AccountGuard already protects nearly 100,000 email accounts, and it has made 1,450 threat notifications to its existing customers. It’s also working to secure voting machines with its related ElectionGuard tech.

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