Iranian hackers target coronavirus drugmaker Gilead

Hackers linked to Iran targeted staff at company behind the experimental drug remdesivir which is said to help some coronavirus patients.

Arutz Sheva North America Staff ,


Hackers linked to Iran targeted staff at US drugmaker Gilead Sciences Inc. in recent weeks, according to publicly-available web archives reviewed by Reuters and three cybersecurity researchers.

Gilead is the company which developed remdesivir, an experimental drug that appears to help some coronavirus patients recover faster and which was approved last week for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

According to Reuters, in one case, a fake email login page designed to steal passwords was sent in April to a top Gilead executive involved in legal and corporate affairs, according to an archived version on a website used to scan for malicious web addresses. Reuters was not able to determine whether the attack was successful.

Ohad Zaidenberg, lead intelligence researcher at Israeli cybersecurity firm ClearSky, who closely tracks Iranian hacking activity and has investigated the attacks, said 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.

Two other cybersecurity researchers, who were not authorized to speak publicly about their analysis, confirmed that the web domains and hosting servers used in the hacking attempts were linked to Iran.

Iran’s mission to the United Nations denied any involvement in the attacks.

“The Iranian government does not engage in cyber warfare,” said spokesman Alireza Miryousefi. “Cyber activities Iran engages in are purely defensive and to protect against further attacks on Iranian infrastructure.”

A spokesman for Gilead declined to comment, citing a company policy not to discuss cybersecurity matters. Reuters could not determine if any of the attempts were successful, on whose behalf the Iranian hackers were working or their motivation.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)