Cyber in a Time of COVID Vaccines

In the midst of a pandemic, while pharmaceutical companies and governments have been working at break neck speed to try to control the spread of COVID-19, including importantly by the development of various vaccines which are now starting to come into use, sadly and almost unsurprisingly, the production of vaccines has become an area of interest to hackers and other criminals.

While the production of vaccines is outside the experience and expertise of most readers, the underlying message is still relevant: there are those who are prepared to do almost anything to make a dishonest dollar at the expense of others.

Allegations were recently reported that North Korean hackers attempted to steal information about COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, presumably to seek to obtain the advantage of being to the produce the vaccines without the very significant cost involved in developing them anew or paying to purchase them from those who had gone to that effort.

This illustrates one reason why your intellectual property, trade secrets and confidential information needs to be kept secure: there are those who wish to obtain it at little or no cost and in doing so, affect your business’ viability.

In parts of the world, there are preclusions on publishing photographs of labels on vials of the genuine vaccine to prevent counterfeiters producing products which appear to have genuine labels and batch numbers.
Again, this illustrates the need to consider what you may need to do to protect your products and your competitive advantage.

While the above are somewhat exotic examples, they indicate the lengths that cyber criminals and hackers and counterfeiters will go in an effort to gain commercial advantage, even if, in some cases, their behaviour may be intended to release an inferior product is being masqueraded as such an important vaccine.

While your organisation’s secrets may not be as important to the world as a COVID-19 vaccine, they are important to you and the loss of them may have devastating impacts on your organisation.  It is therefore important to ensure that you are taking steps adequately to protect yourself from those who may seek to steal from you and to be on guard to ensure that you do not leave available information which may be used by counterfeiters to seek to masquerade as you in the marketplace.

As ever, we are available to provide legal assistance and guidance.

If you have any queries in relation to this article, please contact Iain Freeman.