Hackers are targeting prominent COVID-19 vaccine and drug makers, warns Microsoft
The tech giant stated that pharma firms in countries like Canada, France, India, South Korea and the United States are the targets of cyber criminals. Three nation-state actors were behind the repeated attacks.
November 15, 2020 / 07:40 PM IST
Microsoft drew attention to a series of cyberattacks threatening to derail vital research into potential COVID-19 vaccines, sharing more details of the attacks and promising governments its aid to counter cyber terrorism.
"In recent months, we’ve detected cyberattacks from three nation-state actors targeting seven prominent companies directly involved in researching vaccines and treatments for COVID-19," Microsoft said in a blog post published on November 13.
The tech giant stated that pharma firms in countries like Canada, France, India, South Korea and the United States are the targets of cyber criminals. Microsoft identified that some of the cyberattacks originated from Russia's Strontium. The other two actors originated from North Korea's Zinc and Cerium.
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Among the targets have been several pharma companies in various stages of clinical trials for a COVID-19 testing, cure or vaccine.
"One is a clinical research organisation involved in trials, and one has developed a COVID-19 test. Multiple organisations targeted have contracts with or investments from government agencies from various democratic countries for COVID-19 related work," the American firm added.
Microsoft also outlined the threats made by malignant actors in greater detail. Russia's Strontium used brute force attacks and password spray to try and gain access to accounts. North Korea's Zinc used spear-phishing lures on email addresses, trying to receive details after offering jobs, while compatriot Cerium posed as World Health Organization (WHO) members while using much the same method to gain credentials.
The Washington-based firm said that it had notified all the organisations which had been targetted and where the attacks had been successful.