According to South Korean intelligence officials, North Korea tried to steal coronavirus vaccine technology from U.S. pharmaceutical company Pfizer. South Korean lawmaker Tai-Kyung has announced that the Seoul-based National Intelligence Agency was the first to report the hacking attempt.
North Korean news agency Yonhap also reported the incident based on national intelligence information. In September last year, a UN secret investigation published that $ 271 million had been withdrawn from the Thai cryptocurrency linked to North Korea.
Significantly, it’s currently unclear as to what, if any, data was stolen. Pfizer didn’t make any comment yet.
North Korea has only reported a single case of COVID-19. Still, the country is due to get two million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine in the following weeks. Notably, North Korea closed its borders in January last year, soon after the virus emerged in China.
In November 2020, Microsoft announced at least nine health organizations, including Pfizer, targeted by state-backed organizations in North Korea and Russia. According to the company, North Korean groups called Zinc and Cerium and a Russian group nicknamed Fancy Bear were responsible.
The Kremlin has rejected targeting other countries’ vaccine research.
North Korea always seemed most active in stealing intellectual property
Significantly, states have been deploying their hackers as part of the COVID-19 crisis since the beginning of the pandemic.
Some of this has been intelligence gathering, and some of it is stealing intellectual property to gain. North Korea always seemed to be one of the most active in these actions. The country is willing to target other countries not only for secrets but even just for money.
Last year in the United Kingdom, the National Cyber Security Centre started protecting vaccine research. In 2021, the focus has moved towards protecting the supply chain and rollout of a vaccine.
There is no doubt that because of what is at stake, the pharmaceutical and health sectors are likely to be on the cyber front lines for the foreseeable future.
Furthermore, IBM had announced previously that any such events could happen connected with the coronavirus vaccine. The Wall Street Journal points out that cybercriminals have attempted cybercrime against many vaccine companies, such as Johnson & Johnson and Novavex. Furthermore, the Spanish newspaper El Pace also published that Chinese cybercriminals attacked laboratories in the country. Even the cold storage U.S. Old has announced that its computer system has been hacked.