Hackers are already working to sabotage US vaccine distribution operations: NYT report

Hackers are already working to sabotage US vaccine distribution operations: NYT report
Tumisu/Pixabay
Cybersecurity company catches hacker selling private info on more than 200 million Americans

As the United States struggles to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus and prepare for vaccine distribution, mystery hackers are already working to thwart the process.

A new report published by the New York Times has shed light on IBM cyber security division's investigative findings which suggest companies and government agencies that will be responsible for COVID-119 vaccine distribution are being targeted by "unknown attackers." The findings have also led to a warning from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Nick Rossmann, head of IBM's global threat intelligence team, explained how hackers are attempting to infiltrate the systems and what they are working to find.

Cyber attackers are "working to get access to how the vaccine is shipped, stored, kept cold and delivered," said Rossmann. "We think whoever is behind this wanted to be able to understand the entire cold chain process."

However, their purpose remains unknown. While there are concerns about the possibility of hackers could design to learn more about the transportation process in an effort to attempt to steal intellectual property, cyber security experts have expressed concerns about the possibility of something more harmful.

James Lewis, who oversees the cybersecurity programs at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, discussed his concerns and suspicions as he believes hackers could be preparing for "ransomware play."

"There is no intelligence advantage in spying on a refrigerator," said Lewis. "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."

The latest development comes as states scramble to orchestrate plans for vaccine distribution. As of Dec. 3, there is still no national strategy to do so. The United States has reported over 14.1 coronavirus cases and a death toll of more than 275,000.

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