European Medicines Agency (EMA), a partner of Pfizer and BioNTech, reported that they were the victim of a cyberattack. EMA confirmed that their COVID vaccine data had been accessed by an unauthorized entity, but there is no evidence of data corruption. More details on the European Medicines Agency COVID vaccine data hack is discussed.

What Does the European Medicines Agency COVID Vaccine Data Hack Mean?

European Medicines Agency COVID Vaccine Data Hack

Although the data hack could be potentially harmful to European Medicines Agency, as well as patients that participated in the vaccine trial, EMA assured the public that it would not affect vaccine distribution.

Hackers generally target healthcare organizations to obtain patient protected health information (PHI). This is because PHI consists of a myriad of sensitive data that can be used to steal someone’s identity or commit financial fraud. This makes PHI extremely valuable on the black market.

However, this healthcare hack was different. Hackers did not target European Medicine Agency for their patient data, but rather for their vaccine data. New vaccines are generally patented, making their formulas and study data private for a predesignated amount of time. This prevents other companies from developing their own vaccines and undercutting the developers profits for a period of time. Although this is common practice, with surging COVID cases and limited vaccine availability, giving other companies the ability to produce a tested vaccine would likely be beneficial to the public. Just to be clear, we are in no way condoning data theft.

The information stolen in the European Medicines Agency COVID vaccine data hack could  provide countries the data that they need to develop their own vaccine, without having to conduct a lengthy clinical trial.

Healthcare Hacks and the COVID Vaccine

This is not the first time hackers have targeted pharmaceutical companies to try to steal COVID vaccine data. In May, U.S. officials warned companies that Chinese hackers were targeting vaccine data, although Chinese government officials denied the claims. In addition, in July, Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre released a report that pointed to Russian hacker groups targeting COVID vaccine data, however, the Russian government also denied these claims.

Microsoft also reported that Russian and North Korean hacker groups, posing as the World Health Organization, attempted to access seven pharmaceutical companies through phishing schemes.

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