Coronavirus: Russian spies target Covid-19 vaccine research

Russian hackers are targeting organisations trying to develop a coronavirus vaccine in the UK, US and Canada, security services have warned.

The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said the hackers “almost certainly” operated as “part of Russian intelligence services”.

It did not specify which organisations had been targeted, or whether any information had been stolen.

But it said vaccine research had not been hindered by the hackers.

The hackers are part of a group called APT29, also known as “the Dukes” or “Cozy Bear”.

The NCSC said it was more than 95% certain that APT29 was part of the Russian intelligence services.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “It is completely unacceptable that the Russian intelligence services are targeting those working to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

“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.”

The warning was published by a international group of security services:

  • the UK’s NCSC
  • the Canadian Communication Security Establishment (CSE)
  • the United States Department for Homeland Security (DHS) Cyber-security Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)
  • and the US National Security Agency (NSA)

It said the hackers exploited software flaws to get access to vulnerable computer systems, and used malware called WellMess and WellMail to upload and download files from infected machines.

They also tricked individuals into handing over login credentials with spear-phishing attacks.

  • Phishing emails are designed to trick the recipient into handing over their personal information
  • Spear phishing is a targeted and personalised form of the attack, designed to trick a specific individual. Often the email appears to come from a trusted contact, and may include some personal information to make the message seem more convincing

The report includes recommendations that can help protect organisations from cyber-attacks.

“Throughout 2020, APT29 has targeted various organisations involved in Covid-19 vaccine development in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom, highly likely with the intention of stealing information and intellectual property relating to the development and testing of Covid-19 vaccines,” the report said.

On Thursday, the UK government also said Russians “almost certainly” sought to interfere in the 2019 UK general election through illicitly acquired documents.

(c) BBC

4 comments

  • Can you blame the Russians for hacking? The pathetic response by the West for various atrocities by Russia, has made them believe they are untouchable, and no country is going to really respond with drastic measures against them. Over to you Boris!

    Liked by 3 people

    • They also interfered on behalf of their employee JeremIRA CorbLenin in last year’s election.
      From the DT:
      “Russians tried to influence the UK’s General Election in December, by amplifying the leaked US trade deal documents touted by Jeremy Corbyn during the campaign, the Government believes.

      “Extensive analysis” has led the Government to conclude that “it is almost certain” Russians tried to meddle in the 2019 vote, Dominic Raab has said in a written ministerial statement.

      Documents relating to the UK-US Free Trade Agreement were “illicitly acquired” before the election and disseminated online via the social media platform Reddit, the Foreign Secretary explained. The Telegraph revealed such concerns back in December.

      “When these gained no traction, further attempts were made to promote the illicitly acquired material online in the run up to the General Election,” he said. “Whilst there is no evidence of a broad spectrum Russian campaign against the General Election, any attempt to interfere in our democratic processes is completely unacceptable. It is, and will always be, an absolute priority to protect our democracy and elections.”

      Liked by 3 people

      • Nice words, but very little action. The only way to stop Russia is to fuck them hard. Expel all Russians, confiscate all assets, and close down their filthy media.

        Liked by 3 people

        • If only!
          The same story has been covered in the DM and of course the kremtrolls and Corbynistas have been ordered to jump in. They use a skillful mix of lies and a bit of truth. The following is a good example of some material covering both sides they obviously already had prepared:
          ‘The Russians poured millions into the Tory party before the last election. Cummings spent years in Russia,. Johnson’s girlfriend Symonds attended a meeting of a Pro Kremlin Front group called the Conservative Friends of Russia renamed Westminster Russia Forum. Sergey Nalobin a Russian Intelligence Officer who was expelled by MI5 from the UK after his cultivating friendships with MPs including a certain Boris Johnson. Symonds was Special Political Adviser to John Whittingdale MP, Secretary of State for DCMS who visited Moscow as a Guest of CRF in July 2012. Boris Johnson was given 160k to play “tennis” with a oligarchs wife who had ties to Putin. The Tories are neck deep in Russian money leading right up to the door of No 10.’

          Liked by 3 people

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