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The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has been leaked information on new coronavirus (COVID-19) -related drugs and vaccines stolen in a cyberattack in December 2020 and leaked online in the week of January 11. Before that, he warned that it contained content that had been modified to “may undermine the credibility of the vaccine.”
It is unclear how much the information, including the drug structure diagram and the content of the evaluation process for the new corona vaccine, has been modified.
TechCrunch is contacting EMA.
Via TwitterSecurity researcher Lukasz Olejnik, who expressed concern about the leak, said the tampered data was “distrustful” because the biotechnology-related language in the leaked content was not widely known. It’s perfect for that. “
Now I understand why this data is perfect for sowing distrust. (disinformation). The documents are extremely hermetic, using niche biotech-technical language. No layperson is able to understand this. Perfect for conspiracy thinking, because it does have the numbers-percents. https://t.co/e0qfYoV3R0
– Lukasz Olejnik (@lukOlejnik) January 15, 2021
Similarly, limiting the viral effect can reduce the impact of the modified version, as it requires considerable expertise to properly analyze the data.
However, it is worth noting that the EMA is concerned about the risks associated with trust in the new corona vaccine.
“The EU’s two new corona vaccine marketing approvals were granted in late December 2020 and early January 2021 after independent scientific evaluation,” the EMA wrote in its latest update on hacking. ..
“There is an urgent public health need to be able to provide vaccines as soon as possible to EU citizens in the context of high rates of new corona infections in the EU. Despite this urgency, compromise with high quality standards. Instead, the EU’s perception has always been that it is based on solid scientific evidence of vaccine safety, quality and efficacy. “
“The EMA is in constant dialogue with the European Community (EC) and other regulators inside and outside the network. Approval is granted when there is convincing evidence that the benefits of a vaccine outweigh the risks. Full details of the assessment are published in the European Public Assessment Reports on the EMA website, “he added.
At the time of this writing, the investigation into cyberattacks is still ongoing.
The attack has not yet been tied to a specific hacking group or state actor, and it’s clear who tried to embed misinformation related to the new Corona by spreading modified medical documents online. Not.
However, in November 2020, Microsoft warned that Russian and North Korean-backed hackers were targeting pharmaceutical companies working on the new Corona vaccine.
The European Commission also raised concerns in June 2020 that disinformation about the new corona vaccine would spread in the coming months. At the same time, he cited China and Russia as foreign entities that were confirmed to be behind a state-based disinformation campaign targeting Europe.
In short, the suspicions seem to be directed at the usual “hostile suspects.”
There have been similar “tampered leak” tactics by Russia before. It’s usually election-related, an attempt to interfere with politics by desecrating top candidates for public office.
Researchers have identified hackers involved in a 2015-2016 Democratic National Committee network breach that sneaked into leaked emails with tampered data. This attack originated in Russia.
On the other hand, the most recent one was the infamous “Hunter Biden laptop case”. This was a Trump supporter trying to influence the challenger (now the next president) in the 2020 presidential election to recapture the White House.
In this case, disinformation attacks have disappeared amid a large number of suspicious claims about data cache discovery and timing.
In the previous 2017 case, an email related to the campaign of French President Emmanuel Macron was also leaked online shortly before the vote. Macron’s campaign is fake, in line with a badly treated document on the Internet forums that the presidential leader has a secret bank account in the Cayman Islands.
In 2019, Reddit pointed out Russia’s political influence operations account, alleging that it was involved in the leaking and spreading of confidential UK-US trade negotiations during the UK campaign.
It’s not clear if the leaked trade-related folders have been tampered with. And, of course, it didn’t bring Jeremy Corbyn’s Labor Party an overwhelming election victory. The party used data leaked in the campaign. However, a similar earlier operation by Russia involved a leak of fake documents on multiple online platforms (such misinformation manipulation was identified and eliminated by Facebook in May 2019).
The emergence of tampered new corona vaccines and medical data leaks about treatment is a nasty evolution of hostile cyber-distributed operations seeking to use fake data as a weapon to produce results that are useless to others. it seems like. Underestimating the reliability of vaccine programs poses a direct risk to people’s health.
There have been national level hacks targeting medical data before. However, it was not related to a pandemic in the context of existing public health emergencies.
For example, in 2016, the World Anti-Doping Organization admitted that confidential medical data related to Olympic drug tests for many athletes was leaked by the Russian-connected cyber hacking group Fancy Bear. In this case, there were no reports of data being tampered with.
Related article: Microsoft points out that Russian and North Korean hackers are targeting new corona vaccine manufacturers
Tags: new coronavirus, vaccine, hacking
Image Credits: Dogukan Keskinkilic / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images[To original text]
Rachel Maga is a technology journalist currently working at Globe Live Media agency. She has been in the Technology Journalism field for over 5 years now. Her life’s biggest milestone is the inside tour of Tesla Industries, which was gifted to her by the legend Elon Musk himself.