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IBM says hackers looking to target COVID-19 vaccine supply chain

IBM said the phishing scheme bears resemblance to government actors, but IBM could not definitively identify the place of origin. File Photo by Shutterstock/UPI
IBM said the phishing scheme bears resemblance to government actors, but IBM could not definitively identify the place of origin. File Photo by Shutterstock/UPI

Dec. 3 (UPI) -- IBM said in a warning Thursday that it's discovered a campaign by hackers to infiltrate and target global coronavirus vaccine supply "cold chains" worldwide.

The information technology company's cybersecurity analysts said the phishing email campaign, which began in September, had reached Italy, Germany, South Korea, Czech Republic, greater Europe and Taiwan.

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The report, by IBM cyber threat analysts Claire Zaboeva and Melissa Frydrych, said cold chains are a critical component of the supply chain that ensures the safe preservation of vaccines in temperature-controlled storage and transportation environments.

IBM's warning said the phishing scheme bears resemblance to government hackers, but noted that it could not definitively identify a place of origin.

"While firm attribution could not be established for this campaign, the precision targeting of executives and key global organizations hold the potential hallmarks of nation-state trade craft," the IBM analysts wrote.

"IBM Security X-Force has followed responsible disclosure protocols and notified the appropriate entities and authorities about this targeted operation."

The coronavirus vaccines being manufactured by many developers, including Pfizer and Moderna, require special equipment to keep the drugs temperature-controlled and stable.

IBM urged companies throughout the COVID-19 vaccine supply chain to remain on high alert for suspicious online activity that could interrupt deliveries of coronavirus vaccines, which are expected to begin this month.

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