Iran-linked hackers targeted coronavirus drugmaker Gilead

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Israeli cybersecurity company reveals Iran linked hackers tried to hack Coronavirus (COVID-19) drug developer Gilead

Right now with nearly 276,000 people dead, we need a Coronavirus vaccine or drug. The COVID-19 pandemic is not only killing people world over, but it is also hurting countries socially and economically. Small countries may be set back by at least 10 years due to the coronavirus pandemic. And Iran is one of the biggest victims of Coronavirus pandemics with 104,000 infected patients and nearly 6500 dead. And look at what its state-backed hackers are doing. Hacking a drug firm racing against time to develop a drug for Coronavirus.

An Israeli cybersecurity firm last week uncovered an attempt by Iran-linked hackers to breach US drug company Gilead Sciences. Hacker targeted the staff working at U.S. drugmaker Gilead Sciences Inc in recent weeks, according to publicly-available web archives.

The hacking attack was found by an Israeli cybersecurity firm ClearSky, who closely tracks Iranian hacking activity. ClearSky researcher told Ynet news website that they found that Iranian state-backed hackers had initiated a hack attack using social engineering on the Gilead staff.

According to the researchers, the attempt was part of an effort by an Iranian group to compromise email accounts of staff at the company using messages that impersonated journalists. The Iranian hackers sent a cloned email login page designed to steal passwords, in April, to a top Gilead executive involved in legal and corporate affairs.

Two other cybersecurity researchers working on the Iran based hacker groups confirmed that the web domains and hosting servers used in the hacking attempts were linked to Iran. The hack attempt is believed to be the handiwork of a state-backed hacking group called  “Charming Kitten.” Charming Group focuses on hacking journalists and human rights groups according to ClearSky’s Ohad Zaidenberg.

Iran’s response to Charming Kitten’s hack attack

Iran’s mission to the United Nations denied any involvement in the Charming Kitten hack attacks. The Iranian spokesperson, Alireza Miryousefi told reporters, “The Iranian government does not engage in cyber warfare. Cyber activities Iran engages in are purely defensive and to protect against further attacks on Iranian infrastructure.”

It is not known whether the Charming Kitten’s were able to engineer the hack. A spokesman for Gilead declined to comment, citing a company policy not to discuss cybersecurity matters.

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