Nation-state hackers targeting Covid-19 vaccine makers: Microsoft

Software giant Microsoft says three “nation-state actors” from North Korea and Russia are launching cyberattacks against vaccine makers from a number of nations, including France, South Korea and the US.

“Among the targets, the majority are vaccine makers that have Covid-19 vaccines in various stages of clinical trials,” Mr. Tom Burt, a vice president on security issues, said in a blog post on Friday. Burt did not name the companies. The hackers are using both brute force methods and spear-phishing tactics. One of the North Korean groups sent email lures using “Covid-19 themes while masquerading as World Health Organization representatives.”

The pharmaceutical companies being targeted in the latest attacks are based in Canada, France, India, South Korea and the United States, Microsoft said. The US has also accused China, back in July, of trying to hack into vaccine makers’ systems. Microsoft noted that the health care sector has been the target of attacks for a while by actors “taking advantage of the pandemic.” The hacking attempts have hit at the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Spain, Thailand and states in the U.S.