Amid the worst pandemic lived in modern human history, hackers do not rest. This time, the newly developed vaccines are being targeted
in their transportation procedures. In particular, the cold chain logistics needed to transport the envelopes from one country to another.
The companies attacked were Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, as well as some other international institutions as the WHO and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
According to IBM – the company that revealed the attack – the attack was launched from a third country. The sophistication of the offensive suggests that countries like Russia, China, and North Korea may be behind the attack.
These countries tried to gather vital information about transportation procedures of the vaccines developed in the western hemisphere.
Since last September, phishing emails have been arriving at addresses of the Cold Chain Optimization Platform (CCEOP), the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Taxation and Customs Union, as well as many other organizations across Europe, South Korea, and the WHO.
Malware found in these emails aimed to collect the user credentials of key personnel, which could later be used to gain unauthorized access to vital data. It would compromise the integrity of the vaccine’s distribution and the privacy of information.
Vaccine access is strategic these days, and this kind of operation is more likely to be used by a government than a particular group, IBM says.
The lack of ransomware or any kind of intentions from hackers to profit is suspicious. Such a calculated move indicates that it was done for the information itself and not for money. This information could later be used to sabotage or disrupt the cold chain of the vaccines that need to be preserved at -70ºC.