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  • - [Narrator] Delivering millions of COVID-19 vaccines

  • involves distribution centers,

  • refrigerated trucks and cold storage facilities.

  • And each of these could be a target for hackers.

  • - COVID has been just a golden opportunity

  • for cyber criminals and they've taken full advantage of it.

  • - [Narrator] Since the start of the pandemic,

  • there have been attempts to scam individuals

  • and businesses for money,

  • as well as steal vaccine research

  • or hold data ransom for a payment.

  • And a week before the first vaccinations in the world

  • began in the UK, INTERPOL warned that criminal organizations

  • were planning to infiltrate and disrupt

  • the vaccine supply chain.

  • Hackers are looking for a way

  • to tamper with the distribution.

  • The cold chain network that enables the delivery

  • of temperature sensitive COVID-19 vaccines,

  • like the one developed by Pfizer and BioNTech,

  • that has to be kept at -70 degrees Celsius.

  • - The payoffs are really big.

  • The people that are doing it are increasingly sophisticated.

  • - [Narrator] So are hackers targeting the vaccine rollout

  • and is there a way to stop them?

  • Hackers have been honing their skills for years

  • by going after hospitals.

  • - The average hospital doesn't have very good cybersecurity.

  • Criminals are eager to take advantage

  • of the concern that the virus has raised.

  • - [Narrator] Jim Lewis leads a cybersecurity team

  • into a Washington based think tank.

  • He says the easiest tool for hackers is phishing.

  • - You send an email out to a hundred people,

  • the odds are very good that two of them will click on it.

  • What the COVID vaccine creates

  • is the opportunity to do this on a massive scale

  • and that means you can ask for a massive ransom.

  • - [Narrator] If someone clicks on a malicious link

  • or opens an attachment,

  • the person may be prompted to download malware

  • or enter login details,

  • giving the attacker access to the network and its data.

  • During the pandemic, phishers setup bait

  • with emails sent to hospitals about COVID-19 prevention

  • and setting up pandemic funds.

  • And now that the vaccines are on their way,

  • hackers are taking on new identities

  • to infiltrate cold chain companies,

  • like ones that manufacture solar panels

  • to power refrigerators or IT firms

  • that support biotech and pharmaceutical clients.

  • - I think the messages were very specifically crafted

  • to get people at these companies to respond

  • but in general, this whole problem of Corona virus

  • being a lure for scammers is huge.

  • - [Narrator] IBM recently tracked down

  • a phishing campaign that targeted

  • a variety of these companies.

  • The hacker was disguised as a project manager

  • from the Chinese company, Haier Biomedical

  • which, his website says,

  • is the world's only complete cold chain provider.

  • The writer said it would send an

  • advance payment of around $220,000.

  • The message went on to ask that the reader

  • review the attached draft contract,

  • which is actually a malicious attachment.

  • IBM says it's unclear if any victims

  • clicked on the file and fell for this scam

  • and doesn't know which nation state might be behind it.

  • If there were any victims,

  • IBM says the harvested credentials

  • could give the hacker insight into internal communications

  • as well as methods and plans

  • to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine.

  • Haier Biomedical says it condemns the perpetrators

  • of the phishing email

  • and is working with international organizations

  • to ensure that these incidents

  • don't deter the fight against the pandemic.

  • But if hackers do successfully access the system,

  • they can encrypt the data, making it unreadable.

  • This can happen to logistics companies

  • responsible for delivering the vaccine.

  • - And so you could imagine a locking up the supply chain,

  • locking up distribution codes, or locking the trucks

  • and saying, unless you pay, you won't be able to deliver.

  • - [Narrator] But some systems in the cold chain

  • would be harder to hack.

  • - Yeah, the actual operation of a refrigerator,

  • that would be a specialized operating system

  • and that would be configured in a way that was unusual so

  • they have to figure out how they work.

  • - [Narrator] So what's more likely to happen

  • is that hackers will go after low hanging fruit.

  • - They're already making tons of money

  • just hitting standard windows operating machines.

  • So if you were working for a refrigeration company,

  • I'd be worried about the sort of the back office equipment

  • that the salespeople use, the laptops and the desktops

  • and maybe some of the servers.

  • - [Narrator] After all, according to a survey

  • by a healthcare IT consultant,

  • 80% of health professionals say their hospitals

  • still use legacy systems, such as Windows 2008.

  • - You need to do basic cyber hygiene

  • which includes training, two factor authentication,

  • making sure your patches and updates are installed,

  • but on top of that, you need to back up your data

  • and think about how you're gonna use cloud services.

  • - [Narrator] But given the high stakes

  • of getting more people vaccinated,

  • no amount of drills may prepare the cold chain

  • for the months to come.

  • - This has changed from efforts to steal the formula,

  • to efforts to blackmail people about distribution.

  • So we're seeing the cyber crime evolve

  • when it comes to COVID.

- [Narrator] Delivering millions of COVID-19 vaccines

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Covid-19 Vaccines Are Coming—So Are Hackers | WSJ

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    joey joey posted on 2021/05/30
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