North Korean hackers tried to break into the systems of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer to find information about the vaccine and treatments for the coronavirus, media reported on Tuesday, citing South Korean intelligence.
The National Intelligence Service (NIS) “reported that North Korea tried to obtain technologies including vaccine and treatments for covid through a cyber attack to hack Pfizer,” said deputy Ha Tae-keung.
Pyongyang was the first country in the world to close its borders in late January 2020 in an attempt to protect itself from the pandemic that emerged in December 2019 in neighboring China and has since spread across the planet, killing more than 2 million of people.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said his country had no cases of coronavirus contamination, but experts believe the claim is unlikely as neighboring China is Pyongyang’s main trading and support partner.
The closure of the borders increased the pressure on the North Korean economy, already subject to international sanctions due to the nuclear and ballistic program developed by the regime.
According to Western experts, North Korea has an army of several thousand highly trained hackers who have already attacked companies, institutions and research centers, especially in South Korea.
Pyongyang has also stolen more than $ 300 million in cryptocurrencies in recent months through computer attacks aimed at financing its banned nuclear and ballistic programs, according to a confidential UN report released a few days ago.
Although it claims to be free of the virus, North Korea recently requested vaccines against covid-19, of which it should receive almost two million doses, according to the GAVI Alliance, a member of the UN Covax program, which coordinates the distribution of vaccines to countries. poor.
This is the first official confirmation that Pyongyang has asked for international help, when North Korea’s health infrastructure is considered to be totally inadequate to deal with a large-scale epidemic.
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