Experts from the US tech firm IBM on Thursday said they had detected a cyberespionage operation to target vital information on a World Health Organization (WHO) initiative for distributing COVID-19 vaccine.
The cybersecurity researchers said they were not sure who was behind the effort, which began in September. They were also unable to say if it had been successful.
IBM said the precision targeting and techniques used by the hackers to cover their tracks bore “the potential hallmarks of nation-state tradecraft.”
The hackers had gone through “an exceptional amount of effort,” said IBM analyst Claire Zaboeva, who helped draft the report.
The online intruders had meticulously constructed booby-trapped emails sent in the name of an executive with Haier Biomedical, a Chinese firm that specializes in cold chain vaccine transport and biological sample storage.
The hackers had researched the correct make, model, and price of various refrigeration units, Zaboeva said.
“Whoever put together this campaign was intimately aware of whatever products were involved in the supply chain to deliver a vaccine for a global pandemic,” she said.
rc/rt (Reuters, AP)