The European Medicines Agency, which evaluates the covid-19 vaccines produced by Pfizer and BioNTech, claims to have been hit by a cyberattack.
A few days after a coronavirus vaccine of Pfizer and BioNTech was used for the first time in the United Kingdom, regulatory documents relating to the drug were “subject to illegal access” as part of a cyberattack against the European drug regulator, according to European authorities.
The vaccine, known as BNT162b2, is the only one so far approved in a Western country. The attack will have no impact on the vaccine deployment in Europe.
The European Medicines Agency was recently the target of a cyber attack, the organization announced on December 9, and law enforcement is currently investigating.
No system from BioNTech or Pfizer has been breached, according to a BioNTech statement, and there is no indication that personal data was accessed.
The targeting of information on vaccines and the European Medicines Agency is part of a wave of cyber espionage activity as nations aim to learn more about the pandemic around the world.
Last month it was reported that state-backed hackers have targeted the vaccine supply chain with particular emphasis on the technology and processes that keep vaccines extremely cold on their journey. Over the past year, hackers linked to Russia and North Korea have target companies researching coronavirus vaccines and treatments. Chinese and Iranian hackers were accused trying to steal related research from the United States.
Russia and China have already started to vaccinate their populations. U.S. officials are meeting later this week to decide on emergency approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and then again next week to decide on another vaccine from pharmaceutical company Moderna.
Cyber security concerns have further complicated an already devastating pandemic. Opportunistic criminals have also targeted hospitals with ransomware attacks.