Microsoft warns of cyber attacks related to COVID-19 vaccine


Published: 2020-11-14 11:01

Last Updated: 2024-05-24 13:06

Microsoft warns of cyber attacks related to COVID-19 vaccine
Microsoft warns of cyber attacks related to COVID-19 vaccine

Friday, Microsoft condemned cyber attacks launched by Russian and North Korean "governmental or quasi-governmental groups" against pharmaceutical companies seeking to obtain a vaccine for the coronavirus, calling on governments to have "respect for the law" in cyberspace.

Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President for Customer Security and Trust Tom Burt wrote, "In recent months, we’ve detected cyberattacks from three nation-state actors targeting seven prominent companies directly involved in researching vaccines and treatments for COVID-19. The targets include leading pharmaceutical companies and vaccine researchers in Canada, France, India, South Korea and the United States. The attacks came from Strontium, an actor originating from Russia, and two actors originating from North Korea that we call Zinc and Cerium."

The targets are mostly COVID-19 vaccine makers. Many of the organizations which have been targeted have contracts or have had governmental investments made from various countries around the world.

Burt said that the majority of the attacks were blocked by security protections built into Microsoft products. The organizations were informed and where attacks were successful, Microsoft provided assistance to tackle the issues.

Microsoft called on "world leaders to affirm that international law protects healthcare facilities and to take action to enforce the law," in the Paris Peace Forum organized by the French Government.

Microsoft has previously accused the Russian Strontium of attacking more than 200 organizations involved in the 2020 US presidential elections.

Also known as "Fancy Bear" or "APT 28," this Russian group has been linked to widespread attacks on the US before the 2016 elections.