The manufacturers of one of the leading Covid-19 vaccines has admitted that it has been targeted in an apparent cyberattack. US firm Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, which collectively have developed the first Covid vaccine to achieve approval in the West, confirmed that documents related to the vaccine’s development had been “unlawfully accessed.”
Little information is known about the attack, including likely instigators, or when and how the attack occurred. Personal information connected to participants in the vaccine trial is not believed to have been compromised, however.
It is likely that information related to the Covid-19 vaccine could prove hugely valuable to other corporations and governments looking to create a vaccine of their own. Alternatively, the breach could be used to spread misinformation about the vaccine and the virus itself – something that has become commonplace in the months since the pandemic took hold.
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Aside from the documents in question, no other Pfizer or BioNTech systems were accessed during the cyberattack. Still, the healthcare sector has had to face a spate of attacks since coronavirus vaccine development began.
For example, The European Medicines Agency (EMA) confirmed that it too had been targeted by a cyberattack, shortly before the Pfizer/BioNTech incident came to light. Another vaccine manufacturer, AstraZeneca has also been targeted and Microsoft has called for greater protections to be granted to healthcare providers.
Certainly, the disruption caused by these cyberattacks can only serve to setback the fight against Covid-19, slowing the vaccine approval process. Although it has not been confirmed who is behind the most recent attacks, earlier incidents have been traced to actors in North Korea and Russia.
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