AstraZeneca targeted by suspected North Korean hackers

pharmafile | November 27, 2020 | News story | Medical Communications  

Hackers suspected to be operating from North Korea have tried to break into the systems of AstraZeneca, two people with knowledge of the event told Reuters

The hackers posed as recruiters on LinkedIn and WhatsApp and approached company staff with fake job offers. They sent job descriptions that contained malicious code to gain access to their targets’ computer.

The hackers targeted a wide range of employees, including those working on the company’s coronavirus vaccine. The [Reuters] sources said that the techniques used were part of an ongoing pattern of hacking that US cybersecurity researchers have attributed to North Korea. Previously, the North Korean campaign focused on defence companies and media firms. 

This follows a similar pattern from other adversaries of Western-aligned countries. The World Health Organization says that hackers from Russia, Iran and China have also attempted to target leading pharmaceutical companies developing vaccines, although these countries have all denied it. 

North Korea is no stranger to being in the spotlight for hacking. The US blames them for the hack and email leaks of Sony Pictures in 2014, the theft of $81 million from the Central Bank of Bangladesh in 2016 and the Wannacry ransomware virus in 2017.

Conor Kavanagh

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