Wednesday (February 17th): North Korea hacks Pfizer…?

Kim Jong Un

Name? Kim Jong-un

Westphalian identity? North Korean

Age? 37

Why is he in the news? The Supreme Leader’s regime has reportedly tried to steal the Covid19 vaccine and treatment technology by hacking the computer systems of pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer. A big move for a country ‘untouched by the virus…’

Why do we care? North Korea has requested vaccines to combat Covid19 and is set to receive 2 million doses this year according to the Gavi Alliance. But that is not nearly enough for the entire population. Kim is under immense pressure to keep his crippling public health sector stable and a Covid-19 outbreak could deliver the final blow to his regime. If anything, Kim does not want to depend on the international community too much, in order not to be subject to external pressure. Then again, if you aren’t supposed to bite the hand that feeds you, why hack the hand that vaccinates you…? 

Why should you care? While you may not be a fan of the North Korean leader, you have to have pity on his population. Stealing the vaccine, although unethical, could avoid a greater humanitarian crisis for North Korean citizens so you should care 8/10.

Who else cares? Moon Jae-in, President of South Korea. While Kim might be using this as a chance to flex his cyber muscle, President Moon is proving that his nation is just as capable. Although the times of having the ‘bigger nuclear button’ are over and Kim knows that. Both men are ready to show the world that their cyber arsenal is ready for action.

Any further comments? Cyberattacks targeting health bodies, vaccine scientists and drugmakers, social media outlets and politicians have substantially increased since the start of the pandemic. North Korea alone saw a 32% increase in the number of cyber attacks initiated by the country. In other words, the attack on Pfizer is not the first nor the last of its kind.