South Korea's intelligence agency foiled North Korean attempts to hack into South Korean companies developing coronavirus vaccines, lawmakers said yesterday.
Ha Tae-keung, a member of the parliamentary intelligence committee, said after being briefed by the National Intelligence Service (NIS) that the agency did not specify how many and which drugmakers were targeted but said there was no damage from the hacking attempts.
The revelation came after Microsoft said early this month that hackers working for the Russian and North Korean governments have tried to break into the networks of seven pharmaceutical companies and vaccine researchers in Canada, France, India, South Korea and the United States.
The closed-door briefings by the NIS, which shares intelligence and analysis with counterparts among key neighbours, provide rare public access to information about the reclusive North.
Ha and another member Kim Byung-kee said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had taken some "unreasonable" actions due to Covid-19 "paranoia."
They said those actions included banning fishing and salt production because of fears that seawater might have been contaminated with the virus, reports Reuters.
Meanwhile, one of the developers of Russia's Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine announced yesterday that India-based drugmaker Hetero will produce over 100 million doses of the jab.
"Hetero, one of India's leading generic pharmaceutical companies, have agreed to produce in India over 100 million doses per year of the world's first registered vaccine against the novel coronavirus infection -– Sputnik V," the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said in a statement, adding that production was expected to start in early 2021.