Saturday, March 6th, 2021
Biontech data stolen
Spies from Russia and China hacked EMA
As the EU works to get Biontech’s vaccine approved, it falls victim to hacking attacks. According to a media report, it was Chinese and Russian agents who spied out the data. The secret services also wanted to spread fake news about vaccination.
According to a media report, spies from China and Russia are responsible for hacker attacks on the European Medicines Agency (EMA) during the approval of corona vaccines last year. As reported by the Dutch newspaper “De Volkskrant”, citing people involved in the investigation, the EMA was attacked by Chinese spies in the first half of 2020 and by a Russian secret service later in the year.
According to the company Biontech in December, documents from its then Covid-19 vaccine candidate were accessed during the cyberattacks. At the time, the Medicines Agency confirmed hacker attacks and initiated an investigation by European and Dutch authorities. The EMA has not yet commented on the alleged perpetrators. The criminal investigation continued, said an EMA spokeswoman only. Russia and China have denied previous cyber espionage allegations.
The newspaper reports, citing its sources, that the Chinese gained access to EMA data through a hacker attack on a German university. The EMA denies this, but sources say the report believed the Chinese were at least partially successful and that the hack lasted for months.
Spread doubts about the approval process
Russian attackers, on the other hand, are said to have exploited loopholes in the login process and in other protective measures of the EMA. The Russians are said to have had access to the EMA systems for more than a month. The hackers sent selected EMA employees emails that appeared to be from a colleague. When an employee clicked on one of these options, they activated malware. The interest of the Russian hackers was directed to which countries wanted to use the vaccine from Pfizer and Biontech and what quantities they wanted to buy.
Dozens of internal documents and emails from the EMA were later found in Internet forums. According to the EMA, the documents had been tampered with. Experts believe this was part of a disinformation campaign that should cast doubts about the approval process and safety of the vaccines, the newspaper reported.