Hackers have been targeting companies vital to the distribution of new Covid-19 vaccines, an alert from the US government has revealed.
The alert, shared on a research blog published by IBM, stated that a phishing campaign had been targeting organisations linked with the Covid ‘cold supply’ chain since September. This refers to process needed to keep vaccine doses at cold temperatures before they are given out to patients.
It is believed 10 companies and organisations were targeted by the sophisticated phishing emails. The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Taxation and Customs Union, which has helped set rules on the import of vaccines, was the only one named by IBM.
In the emails, hackers impersonated a business executive from Chinese company Haier Biomedical, which IBM described as a ‘credible and legitimate member company of the Covid-19 vaccine supply chain’.
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They were sent with the intention of tricking staff into entering their credentials into a fraudulent website, where their login information could be stolen.
This would then be used to ‘gain future unauthorised access to corporate networks and sensitive information’ relating to distribution of the vaccine, IBM said.
IBM analyst Claire Zaboeva said the hackers went through ‘an exceptional amount of effort’, researching the correct models, makes and pricing of Haier refrigeration units.
She went on: ‘Whoever put together this campaign was intimately aware of whatever products were involved in the supply chain to deliver a vaccine for a global pandemic.’
It is not yet clear who is behind the hacking campaign. Ms Zaboeva said there was a long list of potential suspects. She added that figuring out how to swiftly distribute a Covid vaccine would likely be ‘topping the lists of nation states across the world’ at present.
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