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Interpol in vaccine warning

An Orange Notice by the international police body Interpol outlines potential criminal activity in the falsification, theft and illegal advertising of COVID-19 and flu vaccines.

Jürgen Stock, Interpol Secretary General, said: “Criminal networks will also be targeting unsuspecting members of the public via fake websites and false cures, which could pose a significant risk to their health, even their lives. It is essential that law enforcement is as prepared as possible for what will be an onslaught of all types of criminal activity linked to the COVID-19 vaccine, which is why Interpol has issued this global warning.”

Interpol has urged the public to beware when going online to search for medical equipment or medicines. Besides the dangers of ordering potentially life-threatening products, Interpol’s Cybercrime Unit has reported that of 3,000 websites associated with online pharmacies suspected of selling illicit medicines and medical devices, around 1,700 contained cyber threats, especially phishing and spamming malware.


Carl Wearn, head of e-crime at cybersecurity firm Mimecast, said: “Given the variety of storage requirements the range of vaccines under current development are likely to require, and the understandable importance attached to these vaccines in the global recovery from the ongoing pandemic, it is almost certain that the continued and sustained targeting of supply chain operations which Mimecast has seen over the last year will increase yet further still. In particular, activity against the transportation, storage and delivery networks relied upon for the delivery of any mass vaccination programme is highly likely to escalate, as they will be viewed as key targets of threat actors in the coming weeks and months.

“These will be perceived as victims of choice given the high potential for disruption and delay to these programmes, and possibly the potential extension of the current period of economic damage that this disruption would entail. For other criminals, the additional compulsion to pay any ransom demanded as a result of an attack is likely to present an increased opportunity to ransomware threat actors. A recent ransomware attack has already taken place against at least one specialist cold-storage provider, and so organisations should be acutely aware of the increased likelihood of cyber-attack at this critical juncture.”


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