Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Without leadership on vaccine deployment, scams are inevitable

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“We have the best logisticians in the world at the Defense Ministry, working in conjunction with the CDC, to guide … any logistical details you could think of,” said Paul Mango, deputy chief of staff for policy at the Department. Department of Health and Human Services. While the military is not involved in administering injections, he said, it would apply an end-to-end monitoring system to ensure that every dose of vaccine was delivered accurately before it expired. .

This supply chain, however, has come under attack.

In one case a pharmacist in Wisconsin managed to sabotage 500 vaccines, apparently motivated by his belief in doomsday conspiracy theories. It wasn’t exactly the strike that Interpol warned on when he warned countries to remain vigilant in the face of organized crime threats to vaccine supply, but he showed the weaknesses in the system were there – and could be the result of bad decisions at the top .

Interim fixes cause problems

It has become increasingly clear that many hospitals, pharmacies and other establishments that have received vaccines are alone: ​​forced to oversee logistics themselves, organize patient appointments and monitor follow-ups. Under pressure, they began to make hasty or ill-informed decisions, or to turn to services that were not designed for such critical purposes.

Reports started pouring in about how different free websites, like SignUpGenius, were used for vaccination reservations in Oklahoma. Princeton University sociologist Shamus Khan recounted how he frustratedly refreshed Eventbrite, an online events services website, in an effort to find a place for his elderly parents in Florida. Some state health services had decided to use the system because it was “the fastest, easiest and most efficient way” to meet their pressing need.

Later, however, it was revealed that some people who thought they paid to get a place via Eventbrite had been duped. Scammers created bogus listing pages to trick people into handing over their money for dates that didn’t exist. Phone numbers for county health departments were blocked all day and websites struggled with demand making the problem worse.

The use of third-party websites creates the perfect opportunity for a low-tech supply chain attack. Usually, when we think of supply chains and cybercrime, images of malware, stolen passwords, or phishing come to mind. But no hacking was necessary in this case. What happened in Florida was media manipulation in the form of identity theft: fraudsters only had to use the website as it was designed to get away with senior citizens’ money desperate.

The rule of disinformation

These cases are alarming for several reasons. Impostor sites hiding behind suspect domains selling fake products has become common during the pandemic. The same goes for using social media to wage a low level information war by claiming that the pandemic is a conspiracy.

But if there is one law of disinformation, it is this: everything that is open will be exploited.


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