Efforts by automakers to help manufacture medical equipment raise product liability and intellectual property concerns. An app that tracks where you have been and who you have crossed paths with could help curb the spread of COVID-19 by identifying hotspots. Cyber criminals are taking advantage of people looking for safety information related to COVID-19.
With auto manufacturing on pause thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, companies like Ford and General Motors are volunteering to manufacture face shields, masks, respirators and ventilators for health care workers and other emergency personnel. However, their efforts to aid first responders also raise product liability and intellectual property concerns, experts say.
FDA Requirements: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has eased some of its restrictions for making ventilators and respirators to let medical device makers more easily change existing products and allow automakers and other manufacturers to repurpose production lines to help increase supply. But even with this new flexibility, experts advise that automakers should partner with a company that can guide them on requirements related to ongoing reporting and quality manufacturing standards, according to a Law360 report.
Intellectual Property Concerns: Automakers will need to be aware of who owns the designs for the medical products they want to produce and whether they need to get licenses, experts say, also warning that there could be litigation if any companies believe one of their products has been reverse engineered. However, the president’s invoking of the Defense Production Act of 1950 might “provide auto manufacturers the right to produce these ventilators with potential for the U.S. government to accept responsibility for any related patent infringement,” said one IP attorney.
Meanwhile, there is some doubt about whether automakers are even up to the challenge of switching to medical equipment production. “These are extremely sensitive machines with not only a lot of hardware but also a lot of software. If one of the components does not work correctly, the whole machine shuts down and cannot be used anymore,” warned one ventilator manufacturer’s CEO in a WIRED report.
An app that tracks where you have been and who you have crossed paths with—and then shares the data without revealing personal information—could help curb the spread of COVID-19 by identifying hotspots.
Private Kit: Safe Paths is a free and open-source app developed by a team of tech experts from organizations including MIT, Harvard, Facebook and Uber. The app shares encrypted location data between phones in the network, letting users see if they may have come in contact with someone carrying the coronavirus—if that person has shared that information—without knowing who it might be. An app user who tests positive can also choose to share location data with health officials, who can then make it public.
Cyber criminals are taking advantage of the pandemic panic, launching malicious email campaigns in the “largest coalescing of cyber attack types around a single theme that has been seen in a long time, and possibly ever,” according to email security vendor Proofpoint.
The hackers are targeting people looking for safety information related to COVID-19, with attacks ranging from credential phishing, malicious attachments and links, business email compromise (BEC), fake landing pages, downloaders, spam, and malware and ransomware.
“Criminals have sent waves of emails that have ranged from a dozen to over 200,000 at a time, and the number of campaigns is trending upward. Initially, we were seeing about one campaign a day worldwide; we’re now observing three to four a day. This increase underscores just how appealing global news can be for cyber criminals.”