Vaccine Research Among Cyber Attack Targets

BACKGROUND:

This morning the BBC reported that organisations working on Covid-19 vaccine research were one of the main targets of cyber-attacks dealt with by UK computer security experts last year as 777 incidents occurred between August 2020 and September 2021.

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Dan Davies
Dan Davies , CTO
InfoSec Expert
November 18, 2021 1:38 pm

<p>Reports of organisations researching the Covid vaccine being one of the main targets of cyber-attacks last year is unsurprising. However, it should act as a reminder that organisations operating in the healthcare sector, especially those with national significance, face an uphill battle to keep their highly sensitive data secure. Criminals and state-backed groups alike are continuing to use the pandemic as a vehicle for cyber-attacks. </p>
<p>“Outdated legacy systems that many healthcare organisations operate leave malicious actors with opportunities to bypass their security. During a time when the vaccine rollout remains critical, ensuring this can continue unimpeded is a must. Modernising IT infrastructure must be a priority if similar attacks are to be avoided.</p>
<p> “Even with the most up to date systems, organisations can’t guarantee to defend against every attack. However, they can shift the odds into their favour by implementing a multi-layered security approach, adopting zero trust principals and utilising innovative technology like AI and ML in systems, as well as potentially turning to outside help from experts. Protecting patient data must be a 24/7 job, as criminals are continuously probing and identifying weaknesses. It also only takes a single vulnerability to enable an attack. Healthcare organisations across the country need to remain alert and ensure they have the right tools to fight off potential cyber attackers</p>

Last edited 1 year ago by Dan Davies
Raj Samani
Raj Samani , Chief Scientist and Fellow
InfoSec Expert
November 18, 2021 1:33 pm

<p>Given the spate of attacks we\’ve seen recently, it\’s no surprise that organisations working on the COVID vaccine research were heavily targeted by cyber attackers last year. Over the past 18 months, the world has witnessed a number of cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure, each of which has had a devastating global impact. In fact, our <a href=\"https://www.mcafee.com/enterprise/en-us/about/newsroom/press-releases/2021/20211109-01.html\" data-saferedirecturl=\"https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www.mcafee.com/enterprise/en-us/about/newsroom/press-releases/2021/20211109-01.html&source=gmail&ust=1637326223056000&usg=AOvVaw0iToy8TauevFCodKnYHAUy\"> research</a> found that 81% of global organisations have experienced increased cyber threats throughout the pandemic. Sadly, the healthcare and life sciences industry is no exception and the consequences of system downtime in this sector go far beyond profit loss and reputation damage.</p>
<p>When it comes to protecting systems in the healthcare sector, dynamic security solutions are key. Cyber threats are continually evolving and often change faster than the regulatory process can keep up. Therefore, the technology required to deter critical infrastructure threats must be flexible and built on an open security architecture to evolve with emerging threats.   </p>
<p>Adopting a zero trust approach to security is also crucial for healthcare organisations looking to protect their networks. It ultimately allows IT and security teams to maintain control over access to the network and all instances within it, such as applications and data, and restrict them if necessary, without compromising user experience and performance.</p>
<p>To avoid the potentially catastrophic impacts of cyber-attacks in the healthcare industry, implementation of the appropriate security measures is absolutely critical.</p>

Last edited 1 year ago by Raj Samani
Matt Aldridge
Matt Aldridge , Principal Solutions Architect
InfoSec Expert
November 18, 2021 1:31 pm

<p>Cyber-attacks specifically on healthcare research institutions, are becoming increasingly targeted, so it’s more challenging for IT admins and security teams to put any single process, or technology in place to protect against threats. Information related to pioneering Covid-19 vaccine research is likely to be very valuable to criminals. It would command high prices on the dark web, as it could be used for criminal activities or sold to unscrupulous government entities, via intermediaries, who wish to enhance their knowledge of the vaccine without using the proper channels.</p>
<p> Therefore, organisations must step up and make sure they implement better security systems and staff training, as it is key for protection. The most important thing that users can do is back up data and ensure that this can be restored in the case of a cybersecurity attack. It’s critical that all businesses, especially those dealing with sensitive data, invest appropriately in their cyber defences as each person whose information is held by an organisation has a right to privacy and for that information to be stored securely. Having multi-layered cyber defences, tight processes, and well-trained security personnel will help to protect the business, its web properties and its data to uncover weaknesses before criminals exploit them.</p>

Last edited 1 year ago by Matt Aldridge
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