Russian Hackers At Work Stealing Coronavirus Vaccine Data

Russian hackers are attempting to steal Coronavirus vaccine research, say the American, British and Canadian security agencies. Together, their governments accuse Russia  of directing their elite hackers to breach research labs and steal vital data in the search for a solution to the to contain the pandemic.

The three nations have alleged that hacking group APT29, also known as Cozy Bear and said to be part of the Russian intelligence service, is attacking academic and pharmaceutical research institutions involved in coronavirus vaccine development.

The US National Security Agency said that a hacking group implicated in the 2016 break-ins into Democratic Party servers has been trying to steal intelligence about the vaccines from universities and health operations, although currently it is unclear as to what information was stolen.

American intelligence officials said the Russians were aiming to steal research to develop their own vaccine more quickly, not to sabotage other countries’ efforts.

The Russian hackers have targeted British, Canadian and American organizations using malware and sending fraudulent emails to try to trick their employees into turning over passwords and other security credentials, all in an effort to gain access to the vaccine research as well as information about medical supply chains. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, rejected the accusations, saying, “We don’t have information about who may have hacked pharmaceutical companies and research centers in Britain.”

The UK did not say whether Putin knew about the more recent research hacking, but British officials believe such intelligence would be highly prized. 

"It is completely unacceptable that the Russian Intelligence Services are targeting those working to combat the coronavirus pandemic,'' Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a statement. "While others pursue their selfish interests with reckless behaviour, the UK and its allies are getting on with the hard work of finding a vaccine and protecting global health.''

Relations between Russia and the UK, meanwhile, have plummeted since former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a Soviet-made nerve agent in the English city of Salisbury in 2018, though they later recovered. Britain blamed Moscow for the attack, which triggered a round of retaliatory diplomatic expulsions between Russia and Western countries.
The announcement speaks to the cyber security vulnerability created by the pandemic and the global race for a vaccine.

APNnews:    AlJazeera:     New York Times:

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