Jumping to the Front the Vaccine Queue Comes with Big Risks
Vaccines are for sale on dark web marketplaces. Three COVID-19 vaccines from major manufacturers can be purchased.
Dark web marketplaces offer all sorts of goods and services – many of them are illegal or dangerous. Drugs, weapons, and services can be bought usually with cryptocurrency.
Cybercriminals use dark web marketplaces to sell malware or hacking services. They also sell payment cards and accounts that they steal. Large tranches of data exfiltrated in data breaches can also be found online.
Police organizations across the world work together to root out and shut down these marketplaces and forums to facilitate the sale of illegal and stolen goods.
Sometimes marketplaces are simply goods that are in high demand like vaccines for a global pandemic.
Each country has prioritized groups of citizens to determine who will receive the vaccine first. Production and the logistics of transportation have also compounded delays.
The elderly as well as the people who care for them, healthcare workers, and people with existing medical conditions are at the front of the queue in many vaccination programs. Some countries have made politicians as a priority group.
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Cyber security researchers at Kaspersky Labs found advertisements for three highly in demand vaccines – Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Oxford-AstraZeneca.
The average price per does is $500 USD usually payable in bitcoin. All three of these vaccines require two doses.
Approved vaccines by country:
- Johnson & Johnson
European Union and UK
Slovakia and Hungary are going ahead with Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine and the EU is evaluating its efficacy.
“Prices per dose range from $250 to $1,200, averaging around $500. Further analysis showed that pricing had increased significantly following the publication of Moderna’s and Pfizer’s effectiveness, as did the number of advertisements,” reported Kaspersky.
Dark web sellers and buyers use secure messaging apps like Telegram to arrange for payment and delivery.
There is no way to know if these dark web marketplace vaccines are legitimate or dangerous. If these really are vaccines could be coming from a variety of sources – leftovers, stolen doses, or somebody along the supply chain maybe pilfering a few for sale.
Kaspersky even found reviews for some of the dark web purchases.
Cold Storage a Real Challenge
Even if the vaccine is authentic, it may be ruined by the time it is shipped to the buyer.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine must be kept at -70 degrees Celsius to maintain its efficacy. After thawing efficacy is lost after five days. Somewhat better is the Moderna vaccine which must be kept at -20 degrees Celsius. AstraZeneca vaccine can be stored in any refrigerator much like most other vaccines.