Chinese and Russian Hackers Allegedly Stole Vaccine Data from Europe

The hackers were looking for COVID-19 vaccine and treatment data from the European Medicines Agency.
Fabienne Lang

Chinese and Russian hackers may be linked to two cyberattacks last year on the European Medicines Agency's data for treatment and vaccines against COVID-19.

The information has yet to be verified, and was originally shared by sources familiar with the ongoing investigation who were in contact with the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant, via Reuters.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) reported a cyberattack late last year, stating it had launched a full investigation on the matter, but was unable to share any further information.

Chinese and Russian hackers looking for vaccine delivery orders

De Volkskrant reported on Saturday that China-backed hackers carried out an attack in the early part of 2020, with Russia-backed cyberattacks in the latter part of the year. It appears that these hackers were looking to steal information and data surrounding COVID-19 vaccines and treatment that were then leaked online. 

As the reporting by the Dutch newspaper states per Reuters, the Chinese hackers got through to EMA's files by way of a German university. The Russian ones apparently managed to make use of EMA's systems for over a month after getting past flaws in the system's two-point authentication login.

The main points of interest were Pfizer and BioNTech's vaccine's destinations and number of orders, which the pharmaceutical company Pfizer confirmed in a statement after the EMA reached out to them last year. 

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As the COVID-19 pandemic carries out throughout the world, and vaccine rollouts are happening at different speeds and efficiencies, it seems some agencies and people are trying to take matters into their own hands. If hacking isn't an option, some people have been turning to the dark web to buy their COVID-19 vaccine directly  — not something to be condoned. 

This isn't the first time allegations about hacking into Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine data have circulated. Last month, reports that North Korean hackers had tried to steal information were shared.

It's hard to point fingers towards specific people when it comes to hacking, but perhaps once this investigation is over we'll find out exactly who was in charge of these two cyberattacks.

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