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Pharma giant Bayer targeted by China-linked APT called ‘Wicked Panda’

Pharma giant Bayer targeted by China-linked APT called ‘Wicked Panda’

The internet affords unprecedented opportunities for industrial espionage German pharmaceuticals giant Bayer claims to have fended off a nation-state cyber attack from a group linked with China. In a statement today, the company claimed that its in-house security team picked-up evidence of an attack early in 2018, identifying Trojan horse malware called Winnti. It claims

Pharma giant Bayer targeted by China-linked APT called ‘Wicked Panda’

The internet affords unprecedented opportunities for industrial espionage

German pharmaceuticals giant Bayer claims to have fended off a nation-state cyber attack from a group linked with China.

In a statement today, the company claimed that its in-house security team picked-up evidence of an attack early in 2018, identifying Trojan horse malware called Winnti. It claims that it covertly monitored the threat as it developed until the end of March, before moving in and clearing up.

“There is no evidence of data theft,” the company claimed in the statement. An official investigation has been launched. The company claimed that the attack bore the hallmarks of the Wicked Panda advanced persistent threat (APT) group, which has been linked with Chinese intelligence.

According to a report by security firm ProtectWise, a number of Chinese state-linked groups use the Winnti Trojan as part of their attack toolsets, and all are linked with Chinese intelligence services. “The Chinese intelligence apparatus has been reported on under many names, including Winnti, PassCV, APT17, Axiom, LEAD, BARIUM, Wicked Panda, and GREF,” warned the report.

The group that attacked Bayer is believed to be the same one that attacked steel and engineering company Dax Group ThyssenKrupp in 2016, according to German newspaper reports, indicating an industrial espionage motive.

The attack on Bayer comes just weeks after industrial group Norsk Hydro admitted that a number of its systems had been compromised in a ransomware attack. Norsk’s losses are estimated at $40 million.

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