Suspected North Korea Hackers Targeted UK COVID-19 Vaccine Maker

by : Julia Banim on : 27 Nov 2020 12:22
North KoreaPA

Suspected North Korean hackers have reportedly attempted to crack into the systems of AstraZeneca, the pharmaceutical company which has recently emerged as being amonst the top three coronavirus vaccine developers.

This attempt to target AstraZeneca reportedly occured in recent weeks, while the company is working to deploy their new vaccine.


Hackers reportedly pretended to be recruiters on sites such as LinkedIn and WhatsApp, approaching AstraZeneca staff with false employment opportunities before sending over documents said to be job descriptions. These were actually laced with malicious code in a bid to access the victim’s computer.

Kim Jong UnPA

This story was exclusively uncovered by Reuters, which has reported that a ‘broad set of people’ were targeted, including those working in the field of coronavirus research.

Thankfully, it’s thought the hackers have not been successful in their attempt, two sources with knowledge of the incident told Reuters.


These anonymous sources explained that the tools and techniques used in the cyberattacks showed they were part of an ongoing hacking campaign which has been attributed to North Korea.

The campaign has previously targeted defence companies and media organisations. However, in recent weeks, the hackers have turned their attention to coronavirus-related targets.

vaccinePA Images

Attacks against health bodies, vaccine scientists and drugmakers have reportedly risen steeply over the course of the pandemic, with both state-backed and criminal hacking organisations looking to to get hold of the latest research into the virus.


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Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: News, Coronavirus, Hackers, North Korea, vaccine


  1. Reuters

    Exclusive: Suspected North Korean hackers targeted COVID vaccine maker AstraZeneca - sources