In a new blog post, Microsoft said cyber attacks that originated in North Korea and Russia have been targeting companies conducting research for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. Microsoft revealed that the attacks were aimed at seven leading pharmaceutical companies and researchers in the US, Canada, France, India, and South Korea. However, the company did not reveal which companies were targeted or if any data was compromised.
Tom Burt, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of customer security and trust wrote in the above mentioned blog “Among the targets, the majority are vaccine makers that have COVID-19 vaccines in various stages of clinical trials.”
Though Microsoft did not name the companies publicly or provided any details about the information stolen or compromised, the company said that it had notified the organizations and offered help where the attacks were successful.
However, Microsoft said that the majority of the attacks were blocked by its security protections. As per Microsoft, the hackers used various methods to carry out the attacks such as brute force login attempts to steal login credentials, and spear phishing attacks where the hackers posed as recruiters seeking job candidates, and as representatives of the World Health Organization.
Burt further wrote “It’s disturbing that these challenges have now merged as cyberattacks are being used to disrupt health care organizations fighting the pandemic. We think these attacks are unconscionable and should be condemned by all civilized society.”
Day by day, new coronavirus cases are on the rise not only in the US but globally. There are some promising signs in the development of a vaccine too because recently, Pfizer and BioNTech announced their vaccine was 90 percent effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 in clinical trials. Though the preliminary data has not yet been examined by independent researchers experts are considering the news as “extremely encouraging.”