Microsoft said that 3 piracy groups linked to the Russian and North Korean governments had targeted 7 organizations concerned with treating the Coronavirus and vaccine research worldwide in recent months. Some of their attacks have succeeded.
The software company explained that a Russian piracy group usually called Fancy Bear or Strontium – with North Korean actors called Lazarus and Cerium – has been involved in recent attempts to break into the networks of 7 pharmaceutical companies and researchers in Vaccines are in Canada, France, India, South Korea, and the United States.
“Among the targets, the vast majority are vaccine makers who have coronavirus vaccines in various stages of clinical trials,” wrote Tom Burt, Microsoft’s vice president of customer security, in a blog.
Microsoft did not name the targeted companies or provide details about the information that may have been stolen or hacked but said it had informed the organizations and provided assistance.
But according to Microsoft, the majority of attacks are blocked by its own security protections.
The hackers used various methods to carry out the attacks, according to the blog post, including attempts to log in with brute force to steal login credentials, as well as phishing attacks where hackers pretended to recruit looking for job candidates or WHO employees.
“It is upsetting that these challenges now merge with the use of cyberattacks to disrupt health care organizations fighting the epidemic,” Burt wrote. “We believe that these attacks are unreasonable and should be condemned by all civilized society.”
Microsoft is pushing for a new set of global rules that prohibit digital interventions targeting healthcare providers. (Getty Images)
The allegations of cyber espionage come when world powers are racing behind the scenes in a race to produce a vaccine for the virus.
The announcement highlights how Microsoft is pushing for a new set of global rules that prohibit digital interventions targeting healthcare providers.
“The timing of the announcement coincided with the appearance of Microsoft President Brad Smith in the hypothetical Paris Peace Forum,” Burt said in a blog post.
Microsoft’s vice president called on world leaders to confirm that international law protects healthcare facilities and take action to implement the law.
“We believe that the law should be applied about attacks from government agencies and criminal groups that governments allow to operate from within their borders,” he said.