Russian Hackers Target Coronavirus Vaccine Development

    FILE PHOTO: Small bottles labeled with a "Vaccine COVID-19" sticker and a medical syringe are seen in this illustration taken taken April 10, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

    Recently reported, the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) mentioned that a certain group of hackers have targeted information related to the Coronavirus vaccine development. NCSC has said that these hackers “almost certainly” have been functional as “part of Russian intelligence services”.

    These hackers from Russian intelligence services are aiming organizations which are said to be involved in the Coronavirus vaccine development, according to the US, UK, and Canadian authorities. It hasn’t been specified as to which organisations have been targeted and if there has been a breach of information. NCSC publicly declared about the attacks in an advisory.

    The NCSC has named the culprits to be APT29, also known as “the Dukes” and “Cozy Bear,” an organization that is likely associated with Russian intelligence services.

    We condemn these despicable attacks against those doing vital work to combat the coronavirus pandemic,” said NCSC director of operations Paul Chichester.

     It is said that any information about the research is unlikely to be leaked so there is no need to worry about this attack. Russia has denied and not taken responsibility for the same.

    We do not have information about who may have hacked into pharmaceutical companies and research centres in Great Britain. We can say one thing – Russia has nothing at all to do with these attempts,” said Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for President Putin, according to the Tass news agency.

    These are the international security services that have issued the warning: UK’s NCSC, The Canadian Communication Security Establishment (CSE), The United States Department for Homeland Security (DHS), Cyber-security Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), The US National Security Agency (NSA).

    In an NCSC report, it has mentioned that APT29 uses “a variety of tools and techniques” for its hacking operations. The group frequently uses publicly available exploits to conduct widespread scanning and exploitation against vulnerable systems, likely in an effort to obtain authentication credentials to allow further access,” as mentioned in the advisory.

    The hackers are assumed to have a huge store of login information. The hacking group has also been related to the cyberattack on the 2016 Democratic National Convention. The British NCSC stated that it is 95 per cent sure that this group is linked to the Russian government along with being at least 80 per cent certain that this particular activity was constructed to extract information related to Coronavirus vaccine research.

    As Coronavirus cases continue to be on a rise globally, many countries have issued warnings stating the occurrence of international cyberattacks could be a common situation aimed to steal information related to medical research. The FBI and CISA, in May, denounced that China is funding and initiating many hacking activities to get Coronavirus vaccine information from the US and its allies.

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