Finally, there is a glimpse of light amid this pandemic — we finally have a vaccine. And as countries have begun the inoculation, hackers saw an opportunity to make some money. The new attacks range from fooling people to stealing data. We might think that malefactors could’ve been thoughtful of others during these times. But obviously, they don’t care about adding more wreck to the disaster that already takes place. So, should you be concerned and how to stay safe from hackers?
How malefactors attack people?
INTERPOL alerted countries in December to be ready for cyber attacks related to the coronavirus vaccine. And there already are victims of hackers — individuals, businesses, and even government institutions are suffering. There also are activities related to the topic that happen on the dark web as reports suggest. Let’s take a look at the known methods hackers use.
Scamming through forms
As the first person in the United Kingdom was getting inoculated, malefactors were spreading phishing emails. They offered recipients to fill in a registration form that was supposed to put them in line for the jab. This way, hackers were gathering sensitive information they could use later.
Despite that emails were not grammatically correct and looked, well, fishy, quite a lot of people still became victims. And we can expect these letters to appear in our inboxes until the vast majority of the Earth population gets the vaccine.
Supply chain attacks
They began happening in September as IBM experts say. Hackers launched a cyber-espionage scheme that was focused on gathering sensitive data. It’s aimed at governmental agencies and businesses that work with vaccines. Malefactors impersonated a Chinese company’s CEO who was working within the supply chain. They were sending phishing emails with malware and requests for login information.
Hackers targeted particular organizations. It made researchers sure that the scheme was created by some foreign group that wanted to find out details of the vaccine distribution infrastructure.
Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine data got stolen
Even the EMA (European Medicines Agency) became a victim as hackers stole vaccine-related documents. They contained information about the candidate vaccine, its development, possible side effects, the percentage of effectiveness, and other sensitive data. EMA didn’t explain the details about this attack.
How to stay aware of the Covid-19 vaccine?
We already know quite a bit about the jab, so there is no need really to rush the process and look for more details from unreliable sources. Just follow local news and look for information on the official websites of your government. Also, here are some things you also need to know:
Don’t give away information
Many people begin getting calls, messages, and emails with requests for their sensitive data such as bank card details, address, passwords, etc. You can be sure that official organizations won’t demand sensitive information through calls, SMS or online messages, and emails. So don’t fall for the scam.
There is no fee for getting on the jab list
Hackers also fool people into paying for their place on the vaccination list. They send emails with a payment link assuring a recipient that once they pay a fee, they will be in the line for the vaccine. That’s a scam, there is no fee for getting on the list.
Don’t believe vaccine ads
Jabs will be distributed by healthcare providers that won’t be spreading the information through context ads online. So just ignore the ads of vaccines you might see on the internet because they’re not genuine.
You can’t buy a vaccine from the internet
Quite likely, hackers will “sell” jabs online through fake websites. There already are tons of sites that sell illicit meds, and the Covid-19 vaccine definitely won’t become an exception. You will be able to get a vaccine only from your local healthcare provider. The jab needs to be stored in specific conditions and administered correctly to provide a person with protection from the virus. And there is no chance of you being able to do it yourself — let alone someone transporting the vaccine to you keeping it in the correct environment.
What should indicate that a site/call/email/message is a scam?
- Grammar issues in the text
- Suspicious links and files
- Requests of some unnecessary information
- Claims that there are not enough vaccines, and that you need to register right now
- Online ads of vaccines
- Anything that urges you to take actions as soon as possible.
How to stay safe?
Let’s remind ourselves of some basic rules of cybersecurity.
Be careful and attentive
Every time you receive an email, a message, or a call that prompts you to start some actions to get a vaccine, look for the signs we’ve described above. Remember that official organizations won’t encourage people to get inoculated personally through calls or messages — it will be done by governments through the news. Also, you won’t be able to get a real vaccine in some shady place that’s not official. You will quite likely find a list of authorized healthcare providers that administer jabs on the official website of your government.
Don’t fall for ads
As we already said, vaccines won’t be advertised through online ads. So just ignore those or better — report them for a scam. You will know about the ways to get inoculated from official sources of information.
Use a VPN app
We can expect hackers getting into public WiFi networks in the places where you can get a jab and in the locations close to these healthcare providers. iNinja VPN for Android and iOS will keep you protected by covering your IP address and therefore your device from malefactors when you’re connected to a public network.
Inform your family and friends
Spread the information we told in this article. Let your loved ones know how to stay safe from hackers during these times. Ensure them to not fall for fishy ads and emails, and advise them against telling their sensitive information over the phone or on the internet. We need to help each other to remain protected from malefactors!