Last week, the European Medicines Agency reported a cyberattack that enabled hackers to illegally access data on Pfizer and BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine. It is not clear when the hacking incident took place as the agency disclosed that they discovered the cyber attack only recently. The European drug regulator refused to give more details as the investigation is still ongoing.
Nonetheless, the two drug manufacturers, Pfizer and BioNTech released a statement in which it was mentioned that some of the hacked documents were related to the regulatory submission for the BNT162b2, a COVID-19’s vaccine candidate. The two companies said their own computer systems were not breached, whilst giving assurance that no information related to the trial participants were acquired.
What Does the EMA Cyber Attack Imply?
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) assured Pfizer and BioNTech that the hacking incident will not affect EMA’s timeline with regard to their review of the vaccine.
Additionally, more information concerning the investigations are yet to be announced but the EMA said they will do so in congruence with the EU laws.
Marene Allision, Chief Information Security Officer at Johnson & Johnson’s, commented that while major pharmaceutical companies have strong barricades against hackers, problems lie with the systems of third parties like the European Medicines Agency, as they do not have strong defenses in performing their roles as part of the process.
According to Microsoft, the EMA hacking incident is not the only time an organization or company connected with Covid-19 vaccines became a target of cyber attack because they have discovered similar occurrences last month. Microsoft disclosed that hacking attempts to unlawfully acquire valuable data from top vaccine researchers and pharmaceutical companies, were backed by the governments of North Korea and Russia.
The said hackers have been targeting countries that have made progresses in their research for coronavirus treatments and vaccines, such as France, Canada, South Korea, US, and India.