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U.S. Treasury cautions about Ransomware Campaigns against Covid-19 vaccine

U.S. Treasury cautions about Ransomware Campaigns against Covid-19 vaccine

A warning has been issued by the U.S. Department of Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network to financial institutions to be observant of the ransomware, threat of fraud, and other types of criminal activity targeting COVID-19 vaccines and their distribution. On Monday, the warning states that COVID-19 vaccine fraud may involve the sale of unapproved and illegally marketed vaccines. It may also involve counterfeit versions of approved vaccines and the unlawful diversion of legitimate vaccines. 

FinCEN alleges that fraudsters are already trying to offer potential victims a vaccine earlier than otherwise accessible for a fee. The U.S. treasury specifically mentions ransomware in the warning. The notice states that the operators will proceed to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, advocating that there are prevailing ransomware campaigns immediately targeting vaccine research. 

Moreover, FinCEN elucidates that it’s possible that attacks could be launched to agitate the vaccine supply chain and delivery operations. The bureau further states that phishing schemes are increasing by spreading false information regarding the Covid-19 vaccine as a bait to catch victims. The alert offers a series of actions that institutions should follow to report the before-mentioned incidents to FinCEN.

Steps to file report about Covid-19 Vaccine Fraud

FinCEN requests financial institutions to file Suspicious Activity Reports to detect any transactions relating to Covid-19 Vaccine fraud. In association with the effective implementation of Bank Secrecy Act compliance requirements by financial institutions, the reports are essential in recognizing and stopping fraud, cybercrime, and cyber-enabled crime. It involves those linked to COVID-19 vaccines. 

However, the warning comes after the U.S. FDA (Food and Drug Administration) issued two emergency authorizations for Covid-19 vaccines. Moreover, U.K. National Cyber Security Center and Canada’s Communications Security Establishment in association with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency issued a warning in July. The warning stated that Russian hackers were targeting COVID-19-related research.

Further, FinCEN already published an Advisory on Ransomware in October that warned financial institutions of typologies, trends, and potential signs of ransomware and associated money laundering activities. Other international bodies also published similar warnings in the past three months. The bodies include INTERPOL and Europol.

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