North Korea attempted hack on AstraZeneca: Report

The AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine is one of the frontrunners against COVID-19.

North Korea attempted hack on AstraZeneca: Report

Hackers from North Korea have recently tried to gain access to AstraZeneca’s systems through malware sent to its staff, according to Reuters.

Amid earlier reports of North Korea locking down its capital Pyongyang and banning fishing activities in an effort to control the coronavirus, staff at AstraZeneca have said they had been approached with fake job opportunities “that were laced malicious code (malware) designed to gain access to a victim’s computer.”

North Korea has yet to officially confirm any coronavirus infections.

The hacking attempt on the drugmaker, which has teamed up with the University of Oxford in the global race for a vaccine, comes just hours after South Korea thwarted similar attacks on its industry’s vaccine research.

Stolen information can be sold on for a profit or given to foreign countries to gain an advantage.

Earlier this month, Microsoft issued a warning stating it had “detected cyberattacks from three nation-state actors targeting [companies] researching vaccines and treatments for COVID-19.” Microsoft has identified three prominent state-backed actors, one from Russia and two from North Korea.

The method appears to be similar to 2017’s WannaCry ransomware attack that infected companies worldwide. Among a plethora of targets, the malware managed to seize confidential U.K. patient data with the National Health Service and threatened to make the database inaccessible unless a sum in cryptocurrency was paid.

The U.S. blamed the 2017 attack on North Korean hackers, which Pyongyang denied as an effort to smear its image.