The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has confirmed that cyber-criminals who raided the organization in December have leaked some of those documents online.
In a brief statement on Tuesday, it noted that the docs “related to COVID-19 medicines and vaccines belonging to third parties.
“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 unauthorized access,” it added.
“The agency and the European medicines regulatory network remain fully functional and timelines related to the evaluation and approval of COVID-19 medicines and vaccines are not affected.”
Although the EMA has been tight-lipped on exactly what had been taken, BioNTech revealed back in December that documents related to the vaccine it and Pfizer developed were part of the haul.
It’s unclear whether any other data, such as that related to the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, was stolen by the attackers. As Europe’s medical regulator, the EMA will need access to sensitive IP on all of the COVID-19 vaccines and medicines currently being slated for use within the EU.
At the end of December, the EMA clarified that the attack was limited to one application, although other details remain scarce while the investigation is still ongoing.
It’s also unclear whether the data is up for sale or it has simply been published for anyone to access, which could be a clue as to whether the attack was the work of nation state attackers, financially motivated cyber-criminals or hacktivists.
IP related to COVID-19 vaccines IP developed in the West has been targeted by nation state operatives from China, Russia and North Korea for much of 2020.
Warnings from the UK’s National Cyber Security Center (NCSC), Microsoft and US authorities were repeated multiple times throughout the year.
In October, an Indian pharmaceutical firm making Russia’s Sputnik-V vaccine was also forced to shut several facilities after an unspecified incident.
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