EMA hack was a targeted attack by foreign power, NOS source claims

Photo: Odi Busman
Photo: Odi Busman

The digital break-in at the European Medicines Agency in Amsterdam earlier this month was a targeted attack by a foreign power, reports by regional German broadcasters WDR and BR have suggested.

Dutch broadcaster NOS also says it had been told by a source that it was likely a foreign government had been in search of coronavirus research data stored by the EMA.

The EMA investigates how the vaccines work and gives approvals, and receives a large amount of research data from pharmaceuticals companies.

The hack was discovered when a member of staff was found to have logged into the agency’s systems at unusual times. It turned out the account had been used by the hackers as a way in. The two step verification procedure which verifies the identity of the user had been bypassed, but it is unclear how this was possible.

The EMA had earlier said the intruders had seen documentation about the workings of Pfizer Biontech and the Moderna vaccines, but that no private details of trial participants had been compromised.

According to the NOS source, the hackers were also interested in information about the vaccine approval procedure and the people involved in vaccine research.

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