Wave of cyber attacks continues around the COVID-19 pandemic. This time, the attackers are targeting companies that are researching vaccines against the new coronavirus. Microsoft warned of this unfortunate event in its blog. In addition reported that the number of companies targeted by the cyber-attack was 7. It also indicated that the attacks came from organizations linked to the governments of Russia and North Korea.
The attackers identified by Microsoft were Strontium, Zinc and Cerium. The first came from Russia and the last two from North Korea. The report does not detail the names of the pharmaceutical companies or researchers attacked. However, it does identify the countries to which they belong: Canada, France, India, South Korea and the United States. Nor does it reveal any compromised information, only that the companies were correctly notified and assisted.
Attacks on companies fighting COVID-19 are not new
Certainly the cyber attacks in the middle of the pandemic increased. However, specifically attacks on companies researching COVID-19 treatments and vaccines are repeated. The Redmond document mentions that early in the pandemic, the attacks had several targets. Among them was Brno University Hospital in the Czech Republic. Likewise, computer systems of hospitals in Spain and clinical centers in Texas in the USA. Finally, the post highlights that even international organizations such as the WHO were victims of cyber attacks.
Fortunately, Microsoft’s protection programs stopped the attacks before they were perpetrated, mostly. Despite attempts by hackers to circumvent protocols with strategies such as identity theft at logon or phishing. The same document urges governments to recognize the urgency of stopping these attacks. In addition, to implement policies that prevent and punish this type of crime, regardless of whether the organizations involved relate to governments.