According to Reuters, North Korean hackers have applied as recruiters on the LinkedIn and WhatsApp network sites to search for AstraZeneca employees, including those involved in coronavirus research, with false job offers.
The suspected hackers then sent documents – some using Russian e-mail addresses – that were allegedly job descriptions that were actually attached to malicious codes aimed at hackers accessing the victim’s computers, Reuters reported.
According to Reuters sources, they do not think the hackers would have been successful.
While AstraZeneca declined to comment on the matter, Oxford University, which is working with the drugmaker to develop a coronavirus vaccine, told CNN in a statement that the university is working closely with the UK National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) to protect it.
“The University of Oxford is working closely with the National Cyber Security Center to ensure that our COVID-19 research provides the best possible cybersecurity and protection,” a university spokesman told CNN.
The NCSC did not comment directly on the matter, but told CNN on Friday that it is “committed to protecting our most critical assets, the health sector, and research and development on key vaccines against threats.”
CNN has made an official comment to the UN Mission in Geneva at the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, but has not yet received a response.
A spokesman for the mission said in a telephone conversation with CNN that the Reuters report was “fake news”, citing the information being “fabricated.”
The report comes after a South Korean lawmaker said the country had also thwarted North Korean attempts to crack down on its own coronavirus vaccination pharmaceutical companies.
If legislator Tae-Keung did not say in his speech on Friday when the hacking took place or which drug company was targeted, he confirmed that North Korea had made an attempt to crack down on South Korean pharmaceutical companies developing local vaccines against the coronavirus.