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Cybersecurity Hack the vaccine


While some speculated that health services would remain off limits as a target for cyber warfare during the Covid-19 pandemic, time has proven that not to be the case as nation states and affi liated groups have sought to gain the edge in vaccine development. Robert Morgus, senior director for the US Cyberspace Solarium Commission, explains to Abi Millar how future cyberattacks could attempt to interfere with vaccine distribution and the steps being taken to prevent them.


I


n December, the technology company IBM revealed a disturbing finding: a series of cyberattacks had been detected against the Covid-19 vaccine cold chain. The attackers, believed to be a nation state, were working to understand how the international vaccine supply chain operated. They had targeted the companies and government agencies involved in distribution – though whether they were looking to steal the technology or sabotage the rollout wasn’t clear. “There is no intelligence advantage in spying on a refrigerator,” James Lewis, senior vice-president and the director of the technology and public policy programme at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), told the New York Times. “My suspicion is that they are setting up for


a ransomware play. But we won’t know how these stolen credentials will be used until after the vaccine distribution begins.”


It was just one example of what has proven to be a much larger problem. As well as compromising the vaccine rollout, malicious actors could render the vaccines unusable, steal trade secrets or embark on a targeted campaign of disinformation. They could also steal data from poorly designed contact-tracing apps, or jeopardise government lists of who has and has not been vaccinated.


The presumed motives are often financial, with criminals looking to sell data for monetary gain. In other cases, the hackers might be looking to steal information to advance their own country’s vaccine rollout, or to undermine the target country’s efforts.


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Defence & Security Systems International / www.defence-and-security.com


anttoniart; KsanaGraphica/Shutterstock.com


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