The North Korean regime tried to hack US drugmaker Pfizer in an effort to steal information on the company's coronavirus vaccine, according to South Korea's National Intelligence Service. Lawmakers were briefed on the findings during a closed-door session of the National Assembly's intelligence committee on Tuesday, per Yonhap News Agency. "The cyberattacks included an attempt to steal COVID-19 vaccine and treatment technology, to which Pfizer was subject," committee member Ha Tae-keung told reporters, per the Washington Post. He said South Korea had detected a 32% year-on-year increase in the number of attempted cyberattacks from the North. It’s unclear when the hack on Pfizer occurred or if it was successful.
In November, the NIS reported an unsuccessful North Korean attempt to hack at least one pharmaceutical company working on a vaccine. That same month, Microsoft said hackers working on behalf of North Korea and Russia had targeted at least nine health organizations, including Pfizer, per the BBC. "Health experts have said the North's hackers may be more interested in selling the stolen data than using it to develop a homegrown vaccine," per Reuters. North Korean leaders reportedly received vaccine doses from China in November. The regime is now set to receive 2 million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine as part of the UN-backed COVAX vaccine-sharing initiative, which aims to deliver vaccines to the world's most vulnerable people. (Read more North Korea stories.)