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Hackers are targeting the COVID-19 vaccine distribution chain

Vaccines are a complex business, but a safe and effective one may be the key to getting through the COVID-19 pandemic and back to our normal lifestyles. And thanks to scientists and researchers’ tireless effort the world over, we have several promising candidates that are currently awaiting approval.

Hope for an effective vaccine has been high for months. Sadly, there have been instances of scammers trying to make money off of fake vaccine trials. Tap or click here to see how these scams worked.

Now that real vaccines are near completion, one of the biggest logistical hurdles is transporting them for distribution. Vaccines need to be kept extremely cold, which means it’s up to special “cold supply chain” companies to handle the responsibility.

With such a crucial task on their shoulders, these companies have become high-profile targets for, you guessed it, cybercriminals and hackers. Here’s what you need to know about the digital threats targeting upcoming COVID-19 vaccines.

A chilling effect on our vaccine efforts

Hackers are explicitly targeting a network of supply chain companies tasked with transporting potential COVID-19 vaccines. Security researchers at IBM have shared their findings, which show a campaign targeting several of these companies across six different countries since as early as September of this year.

These cyberattacks’ early start date shows perpetrators are eager to stifle any early advantages of widespread vaccinations during this critical point in the pandemic. Most of the organizations targeted are associated with Gavi, the Alliance’s “cold chain” optimization platform. One European tax organization was also identified and named in the findings.

Surprisingly, this cyberattack came in the form of a common threat faced by nearly everyone on the web: phishing attacks.

The hackers sent emails claiming to be from a Chinese cold chain provider with requests for financial quotes. Added to these emails were malicious attachments that asked the victims for login credentials.

IBM has not specified whether any of the attacks were successful, but the fact that cyberattacks are targeting a crucial piece of the vaccine effort is sobering. Then again, there is evidence that hackers originating from Russia and China targeted vaccine research during earlier development stages.

Tap or click here to see where so much of the online cybercrime and fraud is coming from.

What happens if hackers are successful at breaking into the cold chain companies?

Efforts reported by IBM show the hackers were interested in login credentials above anything else. Login credentials are some of the most valuable pieces of data a hacker can get. If they succeed at stealing them from cold chain companies, they could find critical logistical and scientific information.

Whether hacked information is used for sabotage or to speed up competition research is unknown. However, what is certain is that cold chain companies need to be prepared for the security ramifications of their role in the global pandemic. If anything, this should serve as a wake-up call to invest in cybersecurity — pronto.

Tap or click here for our favorite free ways to scan and protect your computer from viruses and malware.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have regarding a medical condition, advice, or health objectives.

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