Hackers striking vaccine-linked manufacturers: 5 things to know

Large manufacturing companies that produce medications and vaccines linked to the COVID-19 pandemic are being targeted by ransomware hackers, The Hill reported Nov. 22.

Five things to know:

1. The Bioeconomy Information Sharing and Analysis Center, or BIO-ISAC, said Tardigrade malware has been detected after a ransomware attack on a major manufacturing facility earlier this year that wasn't named. Tardigrade was detected in an attack on another facility in October.

2. "We’re still learning more about this as time goes on, but because it was clear that spread was still active, this is an active threat, and a significant threat, we wanted to accelerate disclosure," Ed Chung, MD, CMO at BIO-ISAC member and biomedical company BioBright, told The Hill.

3. Researchers told The Hill that efforts were similar to attacks made by a hacker group tied to Russia. The malware seems to be tailored to these companies, and it is difficult to detect and purge.

4. BIO-ISAC said Nov. 22 that companies should train employees to look out for possible attacks and review social media posts of employees for vaccine manufacturing to determine potential targets of a phishing attack. The organization also recommended companies review their networks.

5. Vaccine makers have been hit by hackers in the past. The European Medicines Agency confirmed Jan. 12 that some of its data related to Moderna and Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccines and treatments have been leaked on the internet by hackers. Moderna, Pfizer and BioNTech confirmed that certain documents relating to regulatory submissions for their COVID-19 vaccines had been stored on the EMA server that was inappropriately accessed.


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