Three pharmaceutical companies have come forward over the last few days with promising information about their vaccines being ready for distribution with effectiveness rates of over 90%. However, with the good, comes the bad. On Sunday, The Guardian mentioned our next deadly battle with COVID-19: intellectual property wars.
“State-sponsored hackers from China, Russia, Iran and North Korea are engaged in concerted attempts to steal coronavirus vaccine secrets in what security experts describe as ‘an intellectual property war” reports The Guardian. In this type of war, “they accuse hostile-state hackers of trying to obtain trial results early and seize sensitive information about mass production of drugs, at a time when a range of vaccines are close to being approved for the public.”
Intellectual security threats are only part of the equation. “This is very dangerous because these are the same people targeting our weapons technologies,” said Nino Perrotta, Principal of Sequoia Security Group and former Secret Service agent. These countries not only have hackers, “they have actual people on the ground in the United States.”
“What we are up against are state-sponsored scientists that are sent here,” said Perrotta. “They are working for the Chinese government, for example, and their entire careers are to live in the United States, create a family and life here, all for the purpose of learning and feeding information back to the Chinese.” Once the Chinese government has information, “they will replicate it and sell it on the black market.” Replications are done “cheaply and with cutting corners” because they will not have to meet the rigorous certification process criteria, added Perrotta.
Will vaccination availability from reputable companies help thwart black market resale? No, says Perrotta, “the more the merrier.” A lucrative black market has already popped up around the world for negative COVID-19 tests. “Poor countries live off the black market,” says Perrotta. Therefore, as more companies approach the release of a certified, FDA approved vaccine, “there is more opportunity for hacking of electronic communication, obtaining intellectual property and using any combination of cyber or human assets.”