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Microsoft moves to protect healthcare workers, charities from cyberattacks with free AccountGuard access

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Microsoft has announced that its AccountGuard service is now free for healthcare organisations, as well as human rights and humanitarian organisations. 

At a time when the world is supposed to come together to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, some rogue actors have been targeting overstretched healthcare workers with cyber attacks. That has forced Microsoft to step in and protect those workers. 

In a blog post, the company confirmed that it was making its AccountGuard service, which is an anti-phishing protection system that is typically only available to a few select users, available to all healthcare organisations on the front line during the Covid-19 pandemic. It also extended that free support to humanitarian and human rights organisations. 

Microsoft AccountGuard, which was first offered to political campaigns through the company’s Defending Democracy Program, monitors nation-state threat actors targeting enterprise mailboxes and the personal email accounts of employees or volunteers who opt in. This gives Microsoft’s threat intelligence teams a broad view of the avenues attackers typically use. When the team sees such activity targeting an organisation enrolled in AccountGuard, it notify them immediately so they can take steps to stop an attack or root out the attacker.

AccountGuard has previously been available to political campaigns, parties, members of the U.S. Congress and democracy-focused non-profits. Nearly 100,000 email accounts in 29 countries are enrolled in AccountGuard and there have been 1,450 threat notifications to those participating.

Through today’s announcement, Microsoft is making AccountGuard available to healthcare providers including hospitals, care facilities, clinics, labs and clinicians providing front line services as well as pharmaceutical, life sciences and medical devices companies that are researching, developing and manufacturing COVID-19-related treatments. The company’s notifications will help these organisations defend against nation-state attacks, and its AccountGuard advice and training support will help them harden their defenses against all forms of cyberattacks. AccountGuard for Healthcare will be available until the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.

AccountGuard for Healthcare is available from today in 29 countries across North America and Europe, where AccountGuard is currently already available. The company says it hopes to expand the service further in the future. 

Those interested in signing up can do so on Microsoft’s website.

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