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Threat actors such as the notorious Lazarus group are continuing to tap into the ongoing COVID-19 vaccine research to steal sensitive information to speed up their countries’ vaccine-development efforts.

Cybersecurity firm Kaspersky detailed two incidents at a pharmaceutical company and a government ministry in September and October leveraging different tools and techniques but exhibiting similarities in the post-exploitation process, leading the researchers to connect the two attacks to the North Korean government-linked hackers.

“These two incidents reveal the Lazarus group’s interest in intelligence related to COVID-19,” Seongsu Park, a senior security researcher at Kaspersky, said. “While the group is mostly known for its financial activities, it is a good reminder that it can go after strategic research as well.”

Kaspersky did not name the targeted entities but said the pharmaceutical firm was breached on September 25, 2020, with the attack against the government health ministry occurring a month later, on October 27.

Notably, the incident at the pharmaceutical company — which is involved in developing and distributing a COVID-19 vaccine — saw the Lazarus group deploying the “BookCodes” malware, recently used in a supply-chain attack of a South Korean software company WIZVERA to install remote administration tools (RATs) on target systems.

images from Hacker News