North Korea 'attempted to hack Pfizer Covid vaccine technology'

16 February 2021, 10:23

North Korea has not confirmed a single case of coronavirus
North Korea has not confirmed a single case of coronavirus. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

North Korea has attempted to hack Pfizer and access its Covid vaccine technology, according to reports in South Korea.

The cyber attack follows a similar incident last year where suspected North Korean hackers tried to gain access to nine health organisations, including AstraZeneca.

On Tuesday, South Korean Intelligence said it detected an attempted hack at Pfizer, according to local media.

It is not clear at this stage whether the hack was successful.

The NIS said it had also foiled attempts to hack companies developing vaccines in South Korea.

North Korea is due to receive two million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, and has currently not reported a single case of Covid-19.

South Korea reported an attempted hack on Pfizer
South Korea reported an attempted hack on Pfizer. Picture: PA

Digital espionage against health bodies, vaccine scientists and drugmakers has intensified during the pandemic as state-backed hacking groups scramble to obtain the latest research and information about the outbreak.

Health experts have said the country’s hackers may be more interested in selling the stolen vaccine data than using it to develop a homegrown jab.

Last month, Kim Jong-un claimed North Korea is coronavirus-free as he unveiled a new arsenal of weapons during a large military parade.

During the event to mark the 75th anniversary of the country's ruling party, the dictator warned that North Korea would "fully mobilise" its nuclear force if threatened.

He unveiled what appeared to be a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), possibly the nation's biggest yet, which was set atop an 11-axel launch vehicle that was also seen for the first time.

The North Korean leader refused to directly criticise Washington during his speech, ahead of next month's 2020 US presidential election.

Rather, Mr Kim used it to rally domestic support, urging people to remain firm in the face of "tremendous challenges" posed by the coronavirus pandemic and crippling US-led sanctions over his nuclear programme.