'Getting competitive advantage over Indian pharma firms': Reports claim Chinese hackers 'actively targeting' Serum Institute, Bharat Biotech

A Chinese state-backed hacking group has targeted the IT systems of India's two largest COVID-19 vaccine makers, reported Reuters quoting the cyber intelligence firm Cyfirma.

Serum Institute's Covishield and Bharat Biotech's COVAXIN are the two vaccines being used in the COVID-19 vaccination drive that began in January.

India produces more than 60% of all the vacccines sold in the world. And China and India both have been selling or gifting COVID-19 vaccine to other countries.

As per reports by Cyfirma which is backed by Goldman Sachs and based in Singapore and Tokyo, a Chinese hacking group APT10, also known as Stone Panda, identified gaps and vulnerabilities in the IT infrastructure of Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech.

Cyfirma's Chief Executive Kumar Ritesh, who is a former top cyber official with British foriegn intelligence agency MI6, said that the real motivation here is exfiltrating intellectual property and getting competitive advantage over Indian pharma firms.

He added that the group was targeting SII quite actively.

No comment has been made by SII or Bharat Biotech so far.

Meanwhile, India expanded its COVID-19 vaccine coverage on Monday by including everyone over 60 and those aged between 45-59 who have co-morbidities in the net with Prime Minister Narendra Modi setting the pace by being the first person to take a jab.

Thousands of people queued up at government and private medical facilities across the country as the country further opened its vaccination programme that started on January 16 for healthcare and sanitary workers.

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