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Photo: Valera Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Microsoft said Friday it has detected at least seven attacks on companies working to develop a COVID-19 vaccine or treatments.

Details: The company said attacks by three nation-state actors — two from North Korea and one from Russia — have targeted companies in Canada, France, India, South Korea and the United States.

What they're saying: "Two global issues will help shape people’s memories of this time in history — COVID-19 and the increased use of the internet by malign actors to disrupt society," Microsoft deputy general counsel Tom Burt said in a blog post.

  • "It’s disturbing that these challenges have now merged as cyberattacks are being used to disrupt health care organizations fighting the pandemic."

Between the lines: Attackers have used a range of approaches including phishing schemes and brute force to get needed passwords, with one group tied to North Korea posing as the World Health Organization in its spear-phishing effort.

  • Microsoft said its built-in security protections stopped a majority of the attacks.
  • "We’ve notified all organizations targeted, and where attacks have been successful, we’ve offered help," Burt said.

The big picture: The attacks come amid growing threats to health care providers and nongovernmental agencies, including ransomware attacks against hospitals.

  • Microsoft noted that it made its AccountGuard notification service available starting in April to human rights and health care organizations working on coronavirus-related efforts, signing up 195 such groups.

Go deeper

European and North American authorities disrupt massive ransomware network

European Union's law enforcement agency's headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands. Photo: Yuriko Nakao/Getty Images

European and North American police on Wednesday took control of the infrastructure behind a massive network used by criminals to conduct cybercrime, the AP reports.

Why it matters: By claiming the infrastructure, authorities dealt a major blow to cyber criminals who use Emotet — one of the world's largest networks of hijacked computers — to install ransomware as part of extortion schemes and financial theft heists.

1 hour ago - Health

Pfizer coronavirus vaccine safe, effective in children, company says

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine is safe and effective in children ages 5 to 11, albeit at a lower dose than adults receive, the companies said in a press release announcing results from a pediatric trial.

Why it matters: The trial results are a much-needed source of hope for families with elementary school-aged children, who currently aren't eligible for a vaccine.

The pandemic made our workweeks longer

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The average American's workweek has gotten 10% longer during the pandemic, according to a new Microsoft study published in Nature Human Behaviour.

Why it matters: These longer hours are a key part of the pandemic-induced crisis of burnout at U.S. firms — and workers are quitting in droves.

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