Suspected North Korean hackers targeted Covid vaccine maker AstraZeneca, s say

Daniel Acker | Bloomberg via Getty Image

Suspected North Korean hackers have tried to break into the British drugmaker AstraZeneca’s system in recent weeks, two people aware of the case told Reuters, as the company to deploy its vaccine for the Kovid-19 virus Runs.

s said the hackers set out to contact AstraZeneca employees with fake job offers as recruiters on the networking sites LinkedIn and WhatsApp. They then sent documents for job descriptions with malicious code designed to gain access to a victim’s computer.

The hacking efforts, including staff working on the Kovid-19 research, targeted a “broad set of people”, one of the s said, but not thought to be successful.

The North Korean Mission to the United Nations in Geneva did not respond to a request for comment. Pyongyang has previously refused to carry out cyber attacks. It has no direct contact with foreign media.

AstraZeneca, which has emerged as one of the top three Kovid-19 vaccine developers, declined to comment.

s who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss non-public information said that the equipment and technology used in the attacks showed that they were part of an ongoing hacking campaign, which US officials and cyber Security researchers have held North Korea responsible.

The campaign has previously focused on defense companies and media organizations, but has targeted targets related to Kovid in recent weeks, according to three people who have investigated the attacks.

Cyber ​​attacks against health bodies, vaccine scientists, and drugmakers during the Kovid-19 epidemic have proliferated as state-supported and criminal hacking groups scramble to get the latest research and information about the outbreak.

Western officials say that any stolen information can be sold for profit, used to evacuate victims or give foreign governments a valuable strategic advantage as they fight a disease Fight that has killed 1.4 million people worldwide.

Microsoft said that this month it saw two North Korean hacking groups targeting vaccine developers in several countries, including “sending messages with fabric job descriptions”. Microsoft did not name any of the targeted organizations.

South Korean lawmakers said on Friday that the country’s intelligence agency had foiled some of those efforts.

Reuters has previously reported that hackers from Iran, China and Russia have attempted to make inroads into leading drug makers and even the World Health Organization this year. Tehran, Beijing and Moscow have all denied the allegations.

Some of the accounts used in the attacks on AstraZeneca were registered at Russian email addresses, one of the s said, in a possible attempt to mislead investigators.

North Korea has been indicted by US prosecutors for some of the world’s most audacious and damaging cyber attacks, including Sony Pictures’ emails and hacks and leaks, $ 81 million theft from the Central Bank of Bangladesh, and Wannacry ransomware it was done. Virus in 2017.

Pyongyang has described the allegations as part of Washington’s efforts to tarnish its image.

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