British spies say N Korea used LinkedIn, WhatsApp in vaccine hack

London: North Korea used hackers to pose as headhunters in an attempt to steal Britain's COVID-19 vaccine secrets, security sources said.

They targeted AstraZeneca, the drugmaker working with Oxford University to develop the vaccine. Hackers approached staff with fake job offers, using LinkedIn and WhatsApp, and sent documents including malicious code, designed to give them access to computer systems.

A researcher works on the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.Credit:University of Oxford

The UK's National Cyber Security Centre declined to give further details but did not deny attempts had been made by the rogue state to steal vaccine secrets.

North Korea's mission to the UN declined to respond to a request for comment. The country has previously denied carrying out such attacks. AstraZeneca declined to comment.

It is the third time this month that North Korean hackers have been accused of trying to secure vaccine secrets.

On Friday, South Korea's intelligence agency said it had foiled North Korean attempts to hack into South Korean companies developing coronavirus vaccines, according to members of the South's parliamentary intelligence committee.

Earlier Microsoft said hackers working for the Russian and North Korean governments have tried to break into the networks of seven pharmaceutical companies and vaccine researchers in Canada, France, India, South Korea and the United States.

The Telegraph, London; Reuters

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