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Chinese hackers targeted Indian vaccine makers Serum Institute, Bharat Biotech: Report

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New Delhi, Mar 02: A cyber intelligence firm Cyfirma on Monday claimed that a Chinese state-backed hacking group is targeting the IT systems of two Indian vaccine makers Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech, that are being inculcated in India in world's biggest vaccination drive.

PTI photo

Chinese hacking group APT10, also known as Stone Panda, had identified gaps and vulnerabilities in the IT infrastructure and supply chain software of Bharat Biotech and the Serum Institute of India (SII), the world's largest vaccine maker, according to a Reuters report.

"The real motivation here is actually exfiltrating intellectual property and getting a competitive advantage over Indian pharmaceutical companies," Cyfirma Chief Executive Kumar Ritesh told Reuters.

"APT10 was actively targeting SII, which is making the AstraZeneca vaccine for many countries and will soon start bulk-manufacturing Novavax shots, " he said.

"In the case of Serum Institute, they have found a number of their public servers running weak web servers, these are vulnerable web servers," Ritesh said, referring to the hackers.

"They have spoken about weak web application, they are also talking about weak content-management system. It's quite alarming."

Attack on India's power grid

Earlier in the day, a US company had said in its latest study, raising suspicion whether last year's massive power outage in Mumbai was a result of the online intrusion.

Recorded Future, a Massachusetts-based company which studies the use of the internet by state actors, in its recent report details the campaign conducted by a China-linked threat activity group RedEcho targeting the Indian power sector.

The activity was identified through a combination of large-scale automated network traffic analytics and expert analysis.

India has not beaten us in vaccine diplomacy: China

China on Friday welcomed India supplying more Covid-19 vaccines to a number of countries, playing down reports that New Delhi has beaten Beijing in its vaccine diplomacy around the world.

Responding to a question on a report that India has beaten China in its own game of vaccine diplomacy, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin during a media briefing said, "We welcome that and hope to see more countries taking actions to provide vaccines to the world, especially developing countries, to help with the global response."

"China has been overcoming domestic difficulties to provide vaccines to other countries in concrete measure," he said, flagging China's own vaccine requirement to inoculate its 1.4 billion population.

He reiterated that China has been providing vaccines to 53 countries and exporting vaccines to 27 countries, amid reports that many of those countries are yet to receive Chinese vaccines or the promised quantities.

India's vaccine diplomacy

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi's commitment for supporting vaccine equity and sharing Covid-19 vaccines with over 60 countries across the world, hoping that other nations will follow his example.

India, the largest drug producer in the world, is currently manufacturing two Covid-19 vaccines- Covishield and Covaxin. While Oxford-AstraZeneca's Covishield is being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India in Pune, Covaxin is being produced by Bharat Biotech.

India is expected to step up its vaccine diplomacy in a big way once the Covaxin of the Bharat Biotech gets the WHO nod in the coming weeks.

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