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Ransomware attack affects the COVID-19 Vaccine Trials

COVID-19 ransomware attack

A ransomware attack affects the trials for the COVID-19 Vaccine, as it hit eResearchTechnology (ERT). The company offers clinical services and also builds software for the biomedical industry.

As many companies involved in the Coronavirus research worldwide use its tool, the effect was that it slowed down the research.

The ransomware attack target critical facilities

As the entire wolrd is awaiting for the development of the COVID-19 research, particularly vaccines and quick tests, cybercriminals hit the industry. So, they use ransomware against these companies, because they could be more prone to pay the ransom.

Still, ERT didn’t immediately report the initial ransomware attack, as it happened on September 20. So, details became public when New York Times published a report about this.

Finally, Drew Bustos, ERT’s vice president of marketing, confirmed the incident, and mentioned that the company notified security experts and the FBI.

Companies such as IQVIA, that manages AstraZeneca’s COVID vaccine trial, and Bristol Myers Squibb, which is developing a quick test, use ERT’s software.

According to Bustos, systems are finally back online and should be operational during the next days. So, it took more than two weeks to solve the problem. Still, it is not clear if the company paid the ransom or discovered a solution to restore its services.

Although the ransomware attack did not block the trials, it slowed them down.

The attacks targeted more companies

And this is not the first time when an attack targets the COVID-19 vaccine development. There were more than one since the pandemic started.

In July, the NSA teamed with of NCSC, CSE, DHS CISA. So, they issued an advisory regarding the activity of the Russian Intelligence Service group known as “CozyBear” APT29 or “The Dukes”.
They discovered that the group have been targeting COVID-19 research and vaccine development in different parts of the world: USA, Canada and The United Kingdom.

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