Hackers Target COVID-19 Vaccine Cold Storage Supply Chain

Hackers are using a phishing e-mail campaign to target the international delivery of COVID-19 vaccine “cold chain,” the International Business Machine (IBM) warned on Dec. 3.

Hackers are using a phishing e-mail campaign to target the international delivery of COVID-19 vaccine “cold chain,” IBM warned on Dec. 3.

The American consulting company said that its security team has discovered hackers sending phishing e-mails to organizations linked to the Cold Chain Equipment Optimization Platform program of Gavi, the international vaccine alliance whose partners, which include the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund, help transport vaccines across the world.

According to the research conducted by the IBM Security X-Force, the hackers sent e-mails while impersonating an executive from the legitimate Chinese company Haier Biomedical. The e-mails are said to contain malicious code to gain credentials and access to information related to the vaccine delivery.

Targeted organizations include European Commission’s Directorate General Taxation and Customs Union, companies that manufacture solar panels, a South Korean software development firm, and a German website development company, IBM Security X-Force said.

The identities of the hackers are still unclear but the hacking methods used indicated a “nation-state activity,” IBM Security X-Force said.

“Without a clear path to a cash-out, cyber-criminals are unlikely to devote the time and resources required to execute such a calculated operation with so many interlinked and globally distributed targets,” IBM Security X-Force said.

“Advanced insight into the purchase and movement of a vaccine that can impact life and the global economy is likely a high-value and high-priority nation-state target,” the security team further said.

The security team, which was formed to track down COVID-19 cyber-threats at the start of the pandemic, also said that the campaign started last September and spanned across six countries.


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