Complex vaccine “cold-chain” a rich reward for cybercriminals


As global vaccine development has moved to the next stage, cybercriminals are once again recalibrating their approach, going after a supply chain of immense complexity. A single breach can set back deployment significantly, so it is now imperative that these organisations that make up the supply chain are conscious of how best to protect their systems.

We have seen nation-state threat actors previously target vaccine research to steal incredibly valuable IP. Now, cybercriminals are opening new cyberattack vectors on global deployment, recalibrating their attacks to target the “cold chain” — the supply chain that helps deliver COVID-19 vaccines at required cold temperatures.

In this instance, evidence suggests that a nation-state is likely behind these attacks, as has been the case for many other attacks against the healthcare, higher-education and government sectors this year. Successful cybercriminal breaches will give these malicious actors the capability to influence or control global healthcare, and therefore, geopolitics and economies during a time of great need.

The supply chain behind these vaccines is incredibly complex and multi-staged. For cybercriminals, the more complex the supply chain, the more potential access points they have to wreak havoc. Whether it be disrupting the shipping process, shutting down the vast freezers needed to keep vaccines cold or hacking into supply chain systems, the outcome of malicious intrusions can dramatically disrupt the entire distribution process, putting lives and economies at risk.

To uphold the security of the distribution process, every enterprise, government and organisation involved needs to be conscious of their digital interactions, as cyberattacks continue to target these organisations and their employees.”