COVID-19 Vaccine Related Attacks Shouldn't be Taken Lightly

Almost every nation is in a race to produce a highly effective vaccine to curb the pandemic. However, there have been several setbacks and threats impacting this process, cyberattacks being one of them. COVID-19 vaccine related cyberattacks and fraud incidents are occurring on a daily basis. It is time to start taking intellectual property theft with utmost seriousness.

Recent incident

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) was targeted in a cyberattack, in which documents associated with vaccine development had been accessed. Fortunately, Pfizer and BioNTech stated that the personal details of trial participants were not stolen and the attack would not have any adverse effect on the timeline.

What does this imply?

Vaccines against COVID-19 are akin to liquid gold for its market value and the opportunity it offers. Thus, hacking attempts against vaccine research centers have gained traction as state-sponsored threat groups hunt for proprietary information. 

Vaccine supply-chain under threat

  • Vaccine cold chain companies were targeted in a phishing campaign recently. This issue escalated soon and the FBI and CISA had to issue a joint alert underscoring the threats posed to the vaccine distribution chain.
  • An attacker impersonated a business executive from Haier Biomedical and sent phishing emails to organizations within the COVID-19 cold chain. The targets included global organizations with headquarters in Italy, South Korea, Germany, Taiwan, Czech Republic, and Greater Europe.

The bottom line

While the attacks cannot be attributed to a single entity, the precision and nature of the targeted attacks point toward nation-state actors. A slew of espionage campaigns has been launched against several other companies, which emphasizes the need for stronger cyber defenses.