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North Korea Hacked Pfizer to Steal COVID-19 Vaccine Data, South Korea Says

February 16, 2021

North Korea launched a cyberattack on U.S. drugmaker Pfizer to steal the company’s COVID-19 vaccine data, according to South Korea’s intelligence agency.

Officials with the National Intelligence Service briefed lawmakers Tuesday in Seoul during a closed-door hearing with lawmakers.

This is the second time in recent months that Pyongyang has been accused of hacking pharmaceutical companies to retrieve data about their work in creating a new coronavirus vaccine. Microsoft said in November that hackers from both North Korea and Russia attempted to break into seven prominent companies, including Pfizer and its German-based partner, BioNTech.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un long claimed that his country has no COVID-19 infections, but quickly closed its border with China as the pandemic took hold. The decision cut off impoverished North Korea from its neighbor and key trade and diplomatic ally.

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