North Korea is accused of attempting to steal Covid-19 vaccine information from the US pharmaceutical company Pfizer. The apparent cyber attack was probably an attempt to steal chemical formula and production data regarding the Covid-19 vaccine, reported South Korea’s intelligence officials to lawmakers this week.
The attack, similar to the attacks believed to be of Russian origin late last year, are also believed to be by state-backed actors.
The attacks have occurred over several months, and have attempted to fool Pfizer employees into providing their passwords through fake login pages.
This type of attack is nothing new. North Korea has been accused of trying to steal confidential vaccine information from nine vaccine researchers in 2020. The science and production knowledge behind the vaccines are some of the most valuable intellectual properties on earth at this time. It is unsurprising that cyber terrorism has been quick to react, attempting to benefit from stealing the information.
Having developed Covid-19 vaccines in a fraction of the time it takes for normal treatments, pharmaceutical companies need to protect the valuable IP, supporting data and supply chains from cyber attacks. Robust cyber security in office based environments, and Operation Technology based cyber security within physical plants are required to reduce the risk of a successful attack.
The end-to-end development process is prone to cyber crime. Research and Development Labs and Clinical Trials are open to IP theft. Within mass production, the manufacturing plants are open to attack in an attempt to steal IP, disrupt production, or even worse, change the product. Within the distribution channels, shipping the product can be disrupted or altered. In the case where vaccines require to be stored and shipped at low temperatures, an attack on a refrigeration unit could have a huge impact, ruining a whole shipment of the vaccine.
Cyber security is an ongoing fight against unknown actors. With more state backing, these attacks are becoming increasingly well funded, driving more and more complexity and potential damage. If you are running a production plant and want an Operational Technology Cyber Security Assessment of your estate, get in contact with Fundamentals First to start the journey of mitigating your cyber risk.