US Treasury Warns of Increasing Ransomware Campaigns Against Coronavirus Vaccine Research Institutions

The Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued a warning warning financial institutions in the United States of increasing ransomware attacks against coronavirus vaccine research organizations.

US Treasury Department warns of ransomware attacks and phishing programs against Covid-19 vaccine research institutions

According to the warning, FinCEN is targeting fraud, ransomware attacks and “similar types of criminal activity” to target the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines that could affect their supply chains if appropriate action is not taken in a timely manner.

The warning regarding ransomware campaigns is as follows:

Cyber ​​criminals, including ransomware operators, will continue to take advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic and make legitimate efforts to develop, distribute, and administer vaccines. FinCEN is aware that ransomware targets vaccine research directly, and FinCEN urges financial institutions to be vigilant about ransomware that targets vaccine delivery, as well as the supply chains required to manufacture the vaccines.

As part of the attacks, the office says phishing programs are on the increase by using misinformation about Covid-19 vaccines as bait to trap victims. The warning contains a number of steps institutions should follow in order to report such incidents to FinCEN.

The warning was released on the same day the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued two emergency approvals for coronavirus vaccines.

Financial firms that facilitate ransomware payments could face sanctions

However, the incidents of the ransomware campaigns have one more component that puts additional strain on the backs of financial institutions. On October 1, 2020, the US Treasury Department (OFAC) released a notice highlighting the sanction risk associated with ransomware crypto payments.

Indeed, OFAC warns:

Companies that facilitate ransomware payments to cyber actors on behalf of victims, including financial institutions, cyber insurance companies, and digital forensics and incident response companies, not only encourage future ransomware payment requests, but may also risk violations OFAC regulations.

On December 19, 2020, reported that the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) issued a warning warning the private industry of victim harassment by ransomware gangs via phone calls.

What do you think of the warning issued by FinCEN? Let us know in the comments below.

Photo credit: Shutterstock, Pixabay, Wiki Commons

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