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Hackers Target German Medical Gear Buying System, Firm Concludes

June 8, 2020, 4:15 PM

Hackers were detected sending phishing e-mails to more than 100 employees of a German company and its U.S. and European suppliers, a security firm announced Monday.

The attempted hack was part of an apparently coordinated effort to steal data on people involved in the German government’s efforts to secure face masks and other essential personal protective from international sources, according to a report by published by IBM Corp.’s X-Force Incident Response and Intelligence Services division.

The suspicious activity began on March 30, from a Russia-based IP address, and appears to be ongoing, according to the report. The phishing emails directed the targets to fake Microsoft Corp. login pages.

The German company and its suppliers weren’t named, and it wasn’t clear if any of the fraudulent e-mails were effective. But IBM’s report shows the heightened hacking risks for organizations involved in pandemic-related work, from procuring medical equipment to developing vaccines.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation said in May that hackers working for the Chinese government are trying to steal research data on potential vaccines for Covid-19 from U.S. companies and government agencies, the latest in President Donald Trump’s efforts to confront China over a range of trade and related issues. The World Health Organization revealed in April that it had detected increasing attacks targeting the accounts of top officials, including WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Bruce Aylward, a senior WHO envoy who led a Covid-19 response team in China.

The IBM report didn’t attribute the attempted attacks it discovered to any particular country or hacker group. The potential motives for hacking officials and corporate officers involved in the pandemic response vary, ranging from intelligence-gathering on other countries’ progress to criminal aims to find ways to profit from a spike in demand for medical equipment and supplies.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Jordan Robertson in Washington at jrobertson40@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Andrew Martin at amartin146@bloomberg.net

© 2020 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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