North Korea has attempted to hack into COVID-19 vaccine data from US pharma giant Pfizer, it has been claimed. As reported by the BBC, South Korea’s National Intelligence Agency has briefed law makers about the alleged cyber-attack, although it is unclear whether any data has been stolen.
Pfizer is one of several pharma companies that have developed and received approval for a vaccine designed to protect against coronavirus in recent months. However, the development and roll-out of vaccines have been extensively targeted by nation state actors determined to steal information or derail vaccine programs.
In November, Microsoft revealed that three state-sponsored threat groups from Russian and North Korea have been targeting seven companies developing COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. Additionally, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) recently suffered a cyber-attack following which a number of documents “related to COVID-19 medicines and vaccines belonging to third parties” were leaked online.
The latest incident highlights the constant threats being faced across the vaccine supply chain as countries rush to get their populations injected.
Commenting, Miles Tappin, VP of EMEA at ThreatConnect, said: “With coronavirus vaccines being rolled out worldwide, there should be a collective sigh of relief among all countries. However, over the last year there has been an evident increase in state actors using cyber-attacks for nation state and geopolitical gain, as seen with North Korea attempting to steal vaccine technology from US pharmaceutical company Pfizer.”
George Daglas, COO, Obrela Security Industries, stated: “The COVID-19 vaccine is currently one of the most desired assets on the planet, so it is not surprising it is considered a cyber-attack target. Pharmaceutical companies must take the necessary steps to protect not only their intellectual property but more importantly the vaccine production safety and their vaccine supply chain by enforcing rigorous cyber and physical security controls in every step of the production-supply lifecycle. It is also important for pharmaceutical companies to foster a security aware culture amongst their staff, to effectively reduce the attackers’ likelihood of success when targeting staff as an entry point in the organization.”
Infosecurity will be exploring this important topic in the upcoming webinar Securing the COVID-19 Vaccine & Supply Chain on March 30. Register for free now.