Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Russian and Chinese hackers may have stolen data on European vaccines

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Attempts by state-backed hackers steal COVID-19 vaccine data could go further than you think. According to at Reuters, sources of the Dutch newspaper By Volkskrant claim (subscription required) that Russia and China both launched cyber attacks on the European Medicines Agency in December, taking documents for vaccines and treatments in the process. Russian intruders have had access for more than a month, prognosticators said, and were interested in where and where to buy the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine from.

The Chinese are said to have attacked in the first half of 2020, during the early stages of the pandemic, while Russia followed later that year.

The EMA uncovered a violation in December, but did not name the culprits or provide specific reasons. The agency reiterated that a criminal investigation was “ongoing,” but declined to comment on who was involved in the hacks. Russia and China have historically denied any hacking campaign, regardless of the evidence.

It wouldn’t be surprising if Russia and China were involved. In addition to their long history of state-sponsored hacking, both counties are known to use their SARS-CoV-2 vaccines (Sputnik-V and SinoVac respectively) as forms of economic and political influence. While their exact motives are unclear, they could use EMA data to target countries desperate for additional vaccine supplies.

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