eResearchTechnology (ERT), a medical research organisation based in Philadelphia reported on the 20th September they had fallen victim to a cyber attack in the form of ransomware, disrupting clinical trials to develop treatments and tests to further progress a vaccine for COVID-19
The strain of ransomware has not yet been identified, and no figures have been released outlining the number of medical trials impacted by this incident. Trial researchers have confirmed to have had no access to electronic data and had to revert to pen/paper for patient tracking. ERT report that no trials had been rendered “ruined”, it has slowed down active trials.
In a statement to New York Times ERT highlighted that having backups in advanced of the attack helped limit the impact the ransomware had, that they took systems offline on the 20th September as a precaution and were online again by Friday 2nd October. Further ramifications were experienced by Bristol Myers Squibb, a drug maker, as well as IQVIA, a research organization for hire assisting with the management of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine trial.
It is disgusting to think that cybercriminals would target COVID-19 vaccine research organizations with ransomware. However, it is a stark reminder of how ruthless and morally unjust cybercrime is. We at CFC implore you to review your backup strategies, triple check your cybersecurity defences are effectively deployed and test your disaster recovery plans.
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