Documents relating to COVID19 vaccine and medicines were stolen from the European Medicines Agency last month.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA), which evaluates and approves medicines for the European Union (EU), has revealed that cybercriminals have uploaded some of the documents relating to COVID-19 vaccines. These were stolen in a cyber attack last month.
“The ongoing investigation into the EMA cyber attack has revealed that some of the illegally accessed documents relating to third-party COVID-19 drugs and vaccines have been leaked online. The police authorities are taking the necessary measures, ”says the press release from the EMA. However, the agency added that its systems are fully functional and that vaccine approval and evaluation deadlines have not been altered.
The Netherlands-based agency first revealed on December 9, 2020 that it was the victim of a cyber incident of unknown origin. The investigation which followed revealed that several documents belonging to third parties, presumably those of companies working on vaccines had been illegally consulted.
According to the investigation, the data breach was limited to a single computer application, with the attacker group directly targeting information relating to COVID-19 drugs and vaccines. According to BleepingComputer, the data mine included “ screenshots of emails, EMA comments, Word documents, PDFs, and PowerPoint presentations “. The companies concerned were informed of the incident in good time.
After exposure of the attack, pharmaceutical companies BioNTech and Pfizer revealed that they were among those whose documents were viewed. The companies, which have teamed up to develop and test a COVID-19 vaccine, have issued a joint statement regarding this violation:
“We have been informed by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) that the agency has been the subject of a cyber attack and that certain documents relating to the regulatory submission for the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech, the BNT162b2, which was stored on an EMA server, were accessed illegally. It is important to note that no BioNTech or Pfizer system was breached in this incident and we do not know that study participants were identified from the data consulted. “
Unfortunately, this may not be the last time we hear about cyber attacks and attempted fraud involving COVID-19 vaccines and drugs. Earlier this year, law enforcement authorities around the world sounded the alarm bells about cybercriminals and fraudsters trying to cash in on the vaccine launch.
The US Treasury Department is one of the latest agencies to issue a stern warning over attempts by criminals to exploit the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Keep in mind that offers other than the official ones are fraudulent, and not just because most countries have a vaccination strategy that prioritizes high-risk groups and healthcare professionals.; indeed, trying to skip the queue can lead to severe fines. If you come across similar offers or offers to buy vaccines, this is most definitely a scam, as are the various coronavirus-inspired scams that began to circulate shortly after the start of the pandemic.