Coronavirus: Russian hackers target Covid-19 vaccine research

Coronavirus: Russian hackers target Covid-19 vaccine research

A person reads the NCSC security notice on a phone, while coronavirus illustrations fill the surrounding area

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Russian hackers are targeting organizations seeking to develop a coronavirus vaccine in the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada, security services have warned.

The United Kingdom’s National Cyber ​​Security Center (NCSC) said that hackers “almost certainly” operated as “part of the Russian intelligence services”.

It did not specify which organizations had been targeted or if information had been stolen.

But he said research on vaccines has not been hindered by hackers.

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

The NCSC said that over 95% were confident that APT29 was part of the Russian intelligence services.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “It is absolutely unacceptable for Russian intelligence services to target those working to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

“While others pursue their selfish interests with reckless behavior, the UK and its allies are working hard to find a vaccine and protect global health.”

The warning was published by an international security services group:

  • NCSC of the United Kingdom
  • the Canadian Communication Security Establishment (CSE)
  • the United States Department of Internal Security (DHS) Cyber ​​Security Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)
  • and the United States National Security Agency (NSA)

He said hackers exploited software flaws to gain access to vulnerable computer systems and used malware called WellMess and WellMail to upload and download files from infected machines.

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

  • phishing e-mails are designed to induce the recipient to deliver their personal information
  • Spear phishing it is a form of targeted and personalized attack, designed to deceive a specific individual. Often the email seems to come from a trusted contact and may include some personal information to make the message more convincing

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

“Throughout 2020, APT29 targeted various organizations involved in the development of Covid-19 vaccines in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom, most likely with the intention of stealing information and intellectual property related to the development and Covid-19 vaccine test, “said the report.

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

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