COVID-19 Vaccine Cold Chain Targeted By Hackers

by ian

Ian Patrick, FISM News

As various types of hacking sprees plague U.S. hospitals and international research facilities, yet another attempt was revealed to be targeting the COVID-19 vaccine process. According to IBM Security X-Force, and the new group they formed dedicated to tracking cyber threats specifically for COVID-related entities, their efforts revealed a “global fishing campaign targeting organizations associated with a COVID-19 cold chain.”

In a statement detailing the attacks,  IBM writes:

The adversary impersonated a business executive from Haier Biomedical, a credible and legitimate member company of the COVID-19 vaccine supply chain and qualified supplier for the CCEOP program. …Disguised as this employee, the adversary sent phishing emails to organizations believed to be providers of material support to meet transportation needs within the COVID-19 cold chain. We assess that the purpose of this COVID-19 phishing campaign may have been to harvest credentials, possibly to gain future unauthorized access to corporate networks and sensitive information relating to the COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

The hacking attempt was meant to target multiple international organizations in “energy, manufacturing, website creation and software and internet security solutions” as well as the Directorate-General for the European Commission’s Taxation and Customs Union. Phishing emails were sent directly to executives of these entities.

Although IBM cannot pinpoint the origin of the hacking attempts, it is speculated that the perpetrator “is intimately aware of critical components and participants of the cold chain.” IBM even posits that the attackers could be working under nation-state activity, due to the precision and specificity of targeting.

Without a clear path to a cash-out, cyber criminals are unlikely to devote the time and resources required to execute such a calculated operation with so many interlinked and globally distributed targets. Likewise, insight into the transport of a vaccine may present a hot black-market commodity, however, advanced insight into the purchase and movement of a vaccine that can impact life and the global economy is likely a high-value and high-priority nation-state target.