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Stacy Scott, managing director of the Cyber Risk Practice of Kroll, Inc., explains where vaccine supply chains are most vulnerable to cyber attack, and what steps must be taken to protect them.
In this digital world, vaccine distribution is tracked and monitored by multiple technologies. They ensure that it’s getting to healthcare providers under strict temperature and quality controls. But the task has been complicated by the speed and scale required for distribution of the various COVID-19 vaccines. With supply chains under intense pressure to deliver, it’s easy to miss checking on certain security controls. And problems that crop up are more difficult to address. “It’s always worse in an emergency to find out that something didn’t work as well as expected, or a risk that you didn’t see coming,” says Scott.
The biggest cyber threat at the moment comes from nation states that are striving to obtain information that will allow them to be first to market with the vaccine, while disrupting the supply chains of other countries, Scott says. But organized crime is getting involved as well, as the probable source of ransomware attacks that are launched purely to make a quick profit. Victims are more likely to pay up if they’re worried about getting a sensitive product to market on time and in good condition.
Parties involved in the manufacture and distribution of the vaccine need to ensure that all of the technologies being deployed for that purpose are as secure as possible, Scott says. In particular, attention needs to be paid to devices that are linked to the internet of things, which provide open windows to hackers and cyber thieves if they aren’t protected. The technology for securing the vaccine supply is there, Scott says, but it’s a question of whether it’s being properly deployed.
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