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Cyberattacks strike at COVID-19 vaccine cold chains (Includes interview)

There have been a series of cyberattacks aimed at the companies and government organizations that will be distributing the COVID-19 vaccines. This is an especially problematic cyberattack and yet another example of why organizations and individuals in every sector need to be vigilant in securing their IT operations.

To gain an insight into the issues, Digital Journal caught up with two experts from security company Unisys. According to Tom Patterson, Chief Trust Officer of Unisys, the types of companies most under attack are refrigerator companies, drug stores, trucking companies, and hospitals.

In terms of what is happening. Patterson tells Digital Journal: “Adversaries looking to monetize attacks against the ecosystem of companies, organizations, and individuals have been emboldened with successful ransomware attacks to date. By being able to hold the delivery of a COVID vaccine hostage, bad actors are betting on huge ransom payouts.”

In terms of what needs to happen, Patterson makes the call: “Defensive action needs to be taken now. The velocity and voracity of these healthcare-related attacks are increasing.”

Although governments can help, Patterson does not see this as the whole solution, recommending: “It is up to these individual organizations to step up their defenses and reach out now, in advance of future attacks.“

Patterson’s colleague, Mathew Newfield, who is the CISO of Unisys, outlines what organizations can do to help protect themselves from cyber threats. He explains to Digital Journal that: “The potential success of these spear-phishing attacks should be alarming given the results of the 2020 Unisys Security Index showing that only 1 out of 3 Americans are concerned about cybersecurity. Organizations of all sizes need to ensure they are properly training their staff (at all levels) on how to spot a potential phishing, vishing or smishing attack and what to do if they come across one.”

Newfield further recommends: “Attackers are not just targeting corporate email addresses, but also personal email addresses, so organizations need to ensure they have policies in place to warn employees not to re-use corporate passwords in their personal lives. Attackers know that if they get access to someone’s personal email, there is a high likelihood they can use the information to get into their corporate accounts as well.”

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Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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