South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) foiled North Korean attempts to hack into South Korean companies developing coronavirus vaccines, lawmakers said on Friday.

A member of the parliamentary intelligence committee said the agency did not specify which drugmakers were targeted but said there was no damage from the hacking attempts. The hacking attempt was part of a series of “unreasonable” actions taken by North Korea due to COVID-19 “paranoia”, the lawmakers said.

Last week, Microsoft found that hackers working for Russia and North Korea targeted pharmaceutical companies and vaccine researchers in Canada, France, India, South Korea and the United States.

In July, Chinese-backed hackers were also accused of targeting Moderna in a bid to steal vaccine research data.

North Korea has not confirmed any coronavirus infection, but the NIS had said an outbreak there cannot be ruled out as the country had active trade exchanges with China before closing the border in January.


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