Exclusive: Suspected North Korean hackers targeted COVID vaccine maker AstraZeneca – sources – By Jack Stubbs (Reuters) / Nov 27 2020
LONDON (Reuters) – Suspected North Korean hackers have tried to break into the systems of British drugmaker AstraZeneca in recent weeks, two people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters, as the company races to deploy its vaccine for the COVID-19 virus.
FILE PHOTO: A test tube labeled with the vaccine is seen in front of AstraZeneca logo in this illustration taken, September 9, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic//File Photo
The hackers posed as recruiters on networking site LinkedIn and WhatsApp to approach AstraZeneca staff with fake job offers, the sources said. They then sent documents purporting to be job descriptions that were laced with malicious code designed to gain access to a victim’s computer.
The hacking attempts targeted a “broad set of people” including staff working on COVID-19 research, said one of the sources, but are not thought to have been successful.
The North Korean mission to the United Nations in Geneva did not respond to a request for comment. Pyongyang has previously denied carrying out cyberattacks. It has no direct line of contact for foreign media.
AstraZeneca, which has emerged as one of the top three COVID-19 vaccine developers, declined to comment.