EMA: Some of Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine data was leaked online

Pierluigi Paganini January 12, 2021

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) revealed that some of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine data were stolen from its servers.

In December, a cyber attack hit the European Medicines Agency (EMA). At the time, the EMA did not provide technical details about the attack, nor whether it will have an impact on its operations while it is evaluating and approving COVID-19 vaccines.

European Medicines Agency

The European agency plays a crucial role in the evaluation of COVID-19 vaccines across the EU, it has access to sensitive and confidential information, including quality, safety, and effectivity data resulting from trials.

After the attack, Pfizer and BioNTech issued a joint statement that confirms that some documents related to their COVID-19 submissions were accessed by the threat actors.

“Today, we were informed by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) that the agency has been subject to a cyberattack and that some documents relating to the regulatory submission for Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate, BNT162b2, which has been stored on an EMA server, had been unlawfully accessed,” Pfizer’s and BioNTech’s joint statement read.

Today, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) revealed threat actors have stolen some of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine data and leaked it leaked online.

“The ongoing investigation of the cyberattack on EMA revealed that some of the unlawfully accessed documents related to COVID-19 medicines and vaccines belonging to third parties have been leaked on the internet. Necessary action is being taken by the law enforcement authorities.” reads the update published by the agency.

“The Agency continues to fully support the criminal investigation into the data breach and to notify any additional entities and individuals whose documents and personal data may have been subject to unauthorised access.”

The agency added that the European medicines regulatory network is fully functional and that the cyber attack had no impact on COVID-19 evaluation and approval timelines.

At the end of December, security experts from threat intelligence firm Cyble have found several documents relating to the Covid-19 vaccine allegedly stolen from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) leaked in the Darkweb.

Cyble started tracking documents being shared on one of the Russian-speaking forums. The links to the documents have been shared by a newly created profile which was used only for the alleged data leak.

The documents also include the alleged assessment report of COVID-19 vaccine along with the summary report of drug release and stability.

Nation-state actors consider organizations involved in the research of the vaccine a strategic target to gather intelligence on the ongoing response of the government to the pandemic. At the end of November, the Reuters agency revealed in an exclusive that the COVID vaccine maker AstraZeneca was targeted by alleged North Korea-linked hackers.

Healthcare organizations like Johnson & Johnson are observing a surge of cyber attacks carried by state-sponsored hackers during COVID-19 pandemic.

In December, IBM X-Force experts warned of threat actors actively targeting organizations associated with the COVID-19 vaccine cold chain.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, EMA)

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