Italian Vaccine Booking System Compromised by Hackers

According to NBC, hackers have attacked the vaccination registration system in one of Italy’s largest regions, temporarily blocking residents from booking new vaccination appointments.

With global healthcare systems carefully monitoring and responding to the Delta variant’s creation of a new phase of the pandemic, conflicting priorities are creating new opportunities for cyber criminals. Opportunities which hackers are already taking advantage of, as we are seeing with news of an Italian vaccine booking system being held hostage by hackers who gained access via crypto-locker malware. To make matters worse, this new COVID-related chaos is just putting more pressure on already strapped security teams who have been struggling to address the recent success rates of supply chain attacks.

Chuck Everette, director of cybersecurity advocacy at Deep Instinct weighed in on this latest attack:

"Hackers have recognized that the demand for COVID vaccines presents a wealth of opportunities due to the number of people flocking to be protected, and the personal data that is required to even book a time and date to receive the vaccine. The attack on Lazio’s vaccine portal appears to be part of a supply chain attack and is therefore not an isolated incident. As this attack is part of a wider campaign, it should be the cause of further concern for other government agencies and healthcare organizations across the world.

These are exceptional times and the roll out of vaccine booking portals in every country has been a literal lifesaver for many people. Governments are doing all they can to protect their citizens, however, the speed at which these online portals have been created means that they weren’t necessarily built with security in mind. Governments are finding it increasingly difficult to hire expert cyber professionals who can help prevent attacks such as this one, and it would have been challenging to ensure there are no vulnerabilities within these portals that could be exploited by bad threat actors.

The best protection against attacks such as this one is a multi-layered approach using a variety of solutions. A “prevention-first” mindset is also key. Organizations need to implement security at every stage of the development process and execute a DevSecOps approach in order to actually prevent cyber attacks, rather than mitigate them. Investing in solutions that use technology such as deep learning which can stop a ransomware attack, pre-execution, before it can take hold will also help add that extra layer of defense that government and healthcare organizations desperately need."

Terry Ray, Senior Vice President and Fellow, Imperva also shared his insights: