Microsoft has revealed that “nation-state” actors have been targeting the companies and researchers working on COVID-19 vaccines.
According to Microsoft, one of the groups, Strontium, originates in Russia. Two others hail from North Korea. The three groups have targeted companies and researchers in Canada, France, India, South Korea and the US.
“Among the targets, the majority are vaccine makers that have Covid-19 vaccines in various stages of clinical trials,” writes Tom Burt – Corporate Vice President, Customer Security & Trust. “One is a clinical research organization involved in trials, and one has developed a Covid-19 test. Multiple organizations targeted have contracts with or investments from government agencies from various democratic countries for Covid-19 related work.”
To help protect companies and researchers, Microsoft has made its AccountGuard available at no cost to COVID-19 healthcare providers.
“Organizations are also taking steps to protect themselves. In April, we announced that we were making AccountGuard, our threat notification service, available to health care and human rights organizations working on Covid-19,” continues Burt. “Since then 195 of these organizations have enrolled in the service and we now protect 1.7 million email accounts for health care-related groups. Any health care-related organizations that wish to enroll can do so here.”
It’s a sad state of affairs that hackers would continue to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic. Microsoft is to be commended for its efforts to help protect researchers.