Seoul says North Korea sought Pfizer data

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North Korean hackers made an attempt to steal information about coronavirus vaccines from US pharmaceutical company Pfizer, say South Korean intelligence agencies, according to a report by Yonhap.

The hack focused on information about treating a coronavirus infection, reported Yonhap, citing lawmakers who had received updates from the NIS intelligence agency.

Pfizer was the first Western company to win approval for its vaccine, which it developed in conjunction with German company BioNTech.

Russian security software maker Kaspersky had reported in December that North Korean hackers were attempting to access the computer system of a pharmaceutical company working on the coronavirus, but did not name the firm.

The report also said a country's health ministry was targeted, but did not name which one.

Lazarus is a group of North Korean hackers, members of which have been accused in the past of targeting cash machines and banks, as well as a 2014 attack that shut down Sony Pictures for weeks.

According to a US report, North Korea finances its nuclear weapons program in part with its hacking attacks, which are led by North Korean intelligence services. Those have recently begun targeting asset flows, asset managers and defence ministries around the world.