North Korea ‘Attempted To Steal Pfizer Covid Vaccine’ Using Hackers
North Korean hackers allegedly attempted to steal technology for the coronavirus vaccine from Pfizer’s computers.
The allegations have been made by South Korea’s intelligence agency, which said it had found evidence that North Korea had attempted to steal the technology, but it did not say if it had been successful.
As per Yonhap news agency, sources inside South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (SKNIS) said they believe the hackers were more likely interested in selling the vaccine technology than using it to develop a homegrown vaccine.
Last year, SKNIS said it had foiled attempts by North Korean hackers to disrupt the development of a coronavirus vaccine. It did not identify which companies had been involved in the attempted breach. Pfizer is among a number of pharmaceutical companies with offices in South Korea.
Back in November 2020, Microsoft, which develops cybersecurity software, said state-backed hackers from North Korea and Russia had been targeting seven organisations working on coronavirus vaccines.
Pfizer and BioNTech later said their intellectual property related to vaccine development that was shared with the European Medicines Agency had been targeted, but none of their own systems were breached.
In a blogpost titled Cyberattacks targeting health care must stop, Microsoft called on world leaders to ‘affirm that international law protects health care facilities and to take action to enforce the law’.
‘At a time when the world is united in wanting an end to the pandemic and anxiously awaiting the development of a safe and effective vaccine for Covid-19, it is essential for world leaders to unite around the security of our health care institutions,’ Microsoft said.
The accusations against the regime are not new. North Korea is often accused of using hackers to benefit its government amid international sanctions that have stripped North Korea of international trade with most other countries.
Although North Korea has not reported any confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country, it is set to receive nearly 2 million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford coronavirus vaccine by the first half of this year through the World Health Organization’s vaccine-sharing programme.
Early last year, North Korea’s ruler Kim Jong-Un sealed the country’s border with China and enforced regional lockdowns to prevent the spread of the virus.
In a statement in July, Jong-Un hailed the nation’s response to the pandemic a ‘shining success’ and said he had ‘prevented the inroad of the malignant virus and maintained a stable situation’.
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