Russian hackers tried stealing COVID-19 vaccine research: Details here
Security agencies in the UK, US, and Canada have warned that Russian hackers are targeting their COVID-19 vaccine research. The revelation came a few hours ago, with the services claiming they were certain that the threat actors operated as "part of Russian intelligence services," BBC reported. This comes days after Russia fraudulently claimed that its university has finished trials of world's first COVID-19 vaccine.
Organizations working on coronavirus vaccine targeted
In a recent report, the UK's National Cyber Security Center, Canada's Communication Security Establishment, and America's NSA and Cyber-security Infrastructure Security Agency claimed that Russian hackers have targeted their organizations working on COVID-19 vaccines. They all alleged that the attacks were carried throughout 2020, possibly with the intention of "stealing information and intellectual property relating to the development and testing of COVID-19 vaccines."
Hacker group APT29 involved in the attacks
While the agencies did not reveal the names of the organizations targeted, they did say that the attacks were carried out by the members of a hacker group named APT29. Also known as the Dukes or Cozy Bear, the group exploited vulnerabilities in the organization's computers to gain unauthorized access and then deployed WellMess and WellMail malware to download and upload confidential information.
No clarity over stolen information
The NCSC said it was 95% sure that the hacker group was a part of the Russian Intelligence Services. It claimed that the hack did not disrupt the work on the vaccines, but it must be noted that there is still no clarity over whether any information from the targeted organizations was stolen. Notably, the hackers also used spear-phishing to target the companies.
Here's what UK's 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 behavior, the UK and its allies are getting on with the hard work of finding a vaccine."
Russia denied any involvement in the matter
Following the report, Russia issued a statement denying any involvement in the hack of the companies working on COVID-19 vaccine. "We do not have information about who may have hacked into pharmaceutical companies and research centers in Great Britain. We can say one thing - Russia has nothing at all to do with these attempts," President Putin's spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told TASS.
This is not the first attack on COVID-19 research
While the case of cyber-attack on COVID-19 vaccine research is scary, it is not the first time something like this has happened. Back in March, in a similar case, the US had warned about Chinese "cyber actors and non-traditional collectors" attempting to carry out sophisticated cyber-attacks against US organizations and researchers conducting studies around COVID-19, its spread, and treatment.