South Korea’s intelligence service (NIS) allegedly told the country’s lawmakers that North Korea has attempted to hack Pfizer servers to steal vaccine data. This was apparently revealed in a closed-door briefing for a South Korean parliamentary intelligence committee.
Committee member Ha Tae-keung told the press that Pfizer was the hacking’s target, only to be rebuked later by the NIS, which stated that it didn’t identify any pharmaceutical firm by name, calling his remarks “wrong.”
When he was reached by the AP, Ha didn’t budge from his earlier statement, explaining that he was shown NIS documents about the hacking. The wording about Pfizer “was so clear that I didn’t even ask about that verbally” during the briefing, he said. Ha suggested that the intelligence service was probably trying not to provoke North Korea.
This isn’t the first time that North Korean hackers have gone after vaccine data. In November last year, Microsoft revealed that hackers from North Korea, as well as Russia, went after top pharmaceutical companies and vaccine researchers in Canada, France, India, South Korea and the United States.
In those instances, North Korean hackers primarily employed spear-phishing tactics which involve masquerading as job recruiters or World Health Organisation (WHO) representatives. Phishing is an attempt to get sensitive information like usernames and passwords by pretending to be a trustworthy entity.
Ruled by reclusive leader Kim Jong Un, North Korea has reported exactly zero cases of COVID-19 so far. Last December, according to Nikkei Asia, the regime lambasted a South Korean minister who publicly doubted that figure.