Microsoft detects COVID-19 vaccine hacking attempts by Russia and North Korea
Microsoft said it has detected attempts by state-backed Russian and North Korean hackers to steal valuable data from major drug companies and vaccine researchers.
Said in a blog post On Friday most of the attacks in recent months were unsuccessful, but they did not provide information on how many were successful or how serious those violations were.
Chinese state-backed hackers have also targeted vaccine makers, the US government said in July by announcing criminal charges.
Microsoft said that most of the targets, located in Canada, France, India, South Korea and the United States, were “directly involved in research on vaccines and treatments for COVID-19. “He didn’t mention the targets, but said that most had vaccine candidates at various stages of clinical trials.
The company identified one of the state-backed hacking groups as Fancy Bear, the Russian military agents that Britain’s National Cyber Security Center said in July were behind such intrusion attempts. Two others were the Lazarus group from North Korea and a group Microsoft calls Cerium.
Most of the hacking efforts involved attempts to steal the login credentials of individuals associated with the target organizations. The Lazarus Group posed as job recruiters, while Cerium targeted phishing emails posing as missives from representatives of the World Health Organization, Microsoft said.
The blog post coincided with an appearance by Microsoft Chairman Brad Smith at an international forum calling on nations to protect healthcare facilities from cyberattacks. This year, the Paris Peace Forum takes place online.
Optimism about a COVID-19 vaccine has grown since pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced earlier this week that preliminary data showed its vaccine was 90 percent effective.
At the same time, coronavirus cases are increasing. In the U.S., deaths per day have soared more than 40 percent in the past two weeks to an average of more than 1,100, the highest level in three months.