Operation Vax Industry Collaboration Helped to Ensure Safety & Security of COVID-19 Vaccine in U.S. & Abroad

September 27, 2021

Contact: Sara Schaarschmidt, Hetherington Group

Phone: 973.706.7525

Email: [email protected]

Operation Vax Assisted in Preventing Disruptions in Transportation, Storage, and Distribution of Vaccine

Hetherington Group & the Healthcare Distribution Alliance Coordinated Efforts to Unite 75+ Industry Leaders and Public Agencies

(Wanaque, NJ) Hetherington Group and the Healthcare Distribution Alliance to recognize 75+ industry leaders and public agencies that collaborated at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Comprised of C-Suite healthcare, pharmaceutical, transportation, cybersecurity, and Department of Defense personnel, Operation Vax (OPVAX) helped to ensure the safe and secure transportation, storage, and distribution of the Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines in the United States and abroad.

This operation developed out of a simple phone call between two good friends: Chuck Forsaith of the Healthcare Distribution Alliance and the Hetherington Group’s President, Cynthia Hetherington—and grew into a distinguished collaborative effort that assisted in ensuring the safe and secure movement and delivery of Covid-19 vaccinations to millions of Americans and to foreign nations.

“We are proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with some of the nation’s brightest leaders, who were called upon to help protect our global community from a deadly virus and nefarious players seeking to disrupt the vaccine from reaching the neediest,” stated Hg’s President Cynthia Hetherington.

“I can’t be more appreciative of the efforts put forth by Cynthia, her team, and those she reached out to, to assist in this very important, very critical effort,” stated Chuck Forsaith of the HDA. “The incredibly generous, donated offers to help industry better protect the integrity of the COVID vaccine supply chain is truly remarkable. While I always knew my good friend was ‘connected,’ what I didn’t fully appreciate was how vast those connections actually were—and how much good will they could generate.”

Operation Vax relied on security experts, open-source intelligence gatherers, and boots-on-the-ground monitoring to identify and help thwart persons and entities seeking to disrupt, destroy, or steal vaccines. During bi-weekly meetings, Operation Vax members shared vital intelligence that enabled security experts to monitor groups and people of interest, perform location-specific event searches, and track risk on open and deep web sources. Global cybersecurity vendors Echosec Systems, LtdiThreat, and DarkOwl donated their services and platforms to the collaborative effort.

Over the course of OPVAX, analysts collected over 105,000 open and dark web sources reporting on potential threats to the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. From there, analysts triaged 45,000 of those reports for further analysis—resulting in perpetual risk and vulnerability notifications to the OPVAX team.

iThreat detects, investigates, and mitigates threats to security, brand, reputation, operations, key personnel, intellectual property, and more with its SignalAlert programs. iThreat builds its solutions on decades of investigative experience and jumped at the opportunity to work on the OpVAX initiative. Its FusionCenter platform was well suited to be a nexus point for threat intelligence data related to the distribution of COVID19 vaccines. The FusionCenter platform provided data categorization, risk level ranking, search, and distribution efficiencies to iThreat analysts and partners, while SignalAlert provided monitoring and investigations programs.

“iThreat found the opportunity to work on this project very exciting and rewarding,” stated Jeff Bedser, CEO. “Opportunities like this one that assist with gratis services to serve the betterment of the community as a whole are rare. We are truly thankful to Cynthia for allowing us the opportunity to deploy our energies to this common need with such fruitful outcomes.”

Echosec Systems delivers streamlined access to indexed data from a wide range of social media, deep web, and dark web networks. Advanced filters allow users to zero in on specific keyword and location-based content, and machine-learning models classify the threat potential within posts to enable more effective prioritization. Security and intelligence teams worldwide trust Echosec Systems to detect key information within online chatter to improve situational awareness and inform risk response on the ground.

“The vaccine rollout came with a particularly complex set of risks, and staying ahead of these risks required a unique set of technology solutions,” stated James Villeneuve, Chief Revenue Officer of EchoSec Systems. “We’re proud to have partnered with Hetherington Group on this important initiative and congratulate the team and our fellow technology providers on a successful operation.”

DarkOwl is a Denver-based company that provides the world’s largest index of darknet content and the tools to efficiently find leaked or otherwise compromised sensitive data. DarkOwl’s darknet intelligence, databases, and tools shorten the timeframe to detection of compromised data on the darknet, empowering organizations to swiftly detect security gaps and mitigate damage prior to misuse of their data.

“When DarkOwl was asked to contribute intelligence from the darknet as part of this initiative, it was clear that the Hetherington Group and the Healthcare Distribution Alliance were serious about taking an all-hands approach to this effort that left no stone unturned,” stated Alison Halland, Chief Revenue Officer of DarkOwl. “Here at DarkOwl, we feel passionately that these types of collaborative task-forces have been vital to ensuring the safe roll-out of the vaccine, and we are dedicated to continuing to track vaccine-related risk on the deep web and darknet.”

About Hetherington Group

With over two decades of expertise, the Hetherington Group is a leader in investigative due diligence, corporate intelligence, and cyber investigations. Headquartered in Wanaque, New Jersey, Hg’s investigators and analysts track down and expose vital data on national and international investigations; train thousands of investigators in the public and private sectors annually; and share their expertise in this increasingly data-intensive, cyber focused-world through the publication of an Industry Newsletter and recognized investigative reference books. Hg is a certified National Women Business Owned Corporation, a certified Women’s Business Enterprise, a NJ Women Business Owned Corporation, and NY-NJ Port Authority Women-owned Business Enterprise.

About the Healthcare Distribution Alliance (HAD)

The Healthcare Distribution Alliance (HDA) is the national organization representing primary pharmaceutical distributors — the vital link between the nation’s pharmaceutical manufacturers and pharmacies, hospitals, long-term care facilities, clinics and others nationwide.

Since 1876, HDA has helped members navigate regulations and innovations to get the right medicines to the right patients at the right time, safely and efficiently. HDA’s members include 36 national, regional and specialty primary distribution companies who are not just distributors, but are technology innovators, information management experts, security specialists and efficiency professionals. Their expertise streamlines the supply chain to ensure safety and efficiency, while also achieving cost savings for our nation’s healthcare system.

Additionally, the HDA Research Foundation, HDA’s non-profit charitable foundation, serves the healthcare industry by providing research and education focused on priority healthcare supply chain issues.

About DarkOwl

DarkOwl is led by a team of data enthusiasts whose backgrounds are rooted in dark web research and open source intelligence. We are darknet experts. DarkOwl was founded in 2016, and we are the world’s leading provider of DARKINT™, darknet intelligence and offer the largest commercially available database of darknet content. DarkOwl enables cybersecurity organizations, law enforcement and government organizations to fully understand their security posture and detect potential breaches and violations of the law and mitigate them quickly. We offer a variety of options to access our data.

About iThreat

Founded in 1997, iThreat has been on the leading edge of providing internet investigative solutions. iThreat’s solutions evolve from a desire to build monitoring and detection offerings to rapidly detect and mitigate DNS abuse and other threats that impact our clients’ brand, key personnel, reputation and security. Rapid detection, investigation, and mitigation reduce the timeframe of victimization and prevent escalation of problems. While many solutions revolve around detecting hacks and network anomalies, iThreat focuses on detecting consequential human-driven dialogue and text that represent threats to our clients. Our solutions include SignalAlert monitoring and investigations programs and CleanDNS® solutions for Internet domain abuse monitoring.

About Echosec Systems, Ltd.

In 2013, our founding CEO—a veteran cartographer, was tasked with building a tool to map social media use around a Canadian university campus. It wasn’t long before a military general, as well as a key investor, saw the potential for the technology and it began its evolution into a security intelligence solution unlike anything on the market. Now, the Echosec Systems Platform has become a fundamental tool for the intelligence community and enterprise security teams worldwide. It is prized by teams who value speed to information, breadth of data, and ease of use. These factors are critical for reducing training time, enabling new users to be effective on day one.


September 27, 2021|Covid-19, Cyber Investigations, Cyberhacking, Cybersecurity, Dark Web, Darknet, DarkOwl, Echosec, Healthcare Distribution Alliance, Investigations, iThreat, Operation Vax, OPVAX, OSINT, Vaccines

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