Russia intelligence ‘hacked virus vaccine’

 

The UK, Canada and US have accused a Russian hacking group "almost certainly" backed by intelligence services of targeting research into coronavirus vaccines.

The group, APT29, is also known as The Dukes or Cozy Bear and has been collecting information on vaccine development and research into the COVID-19 virus, UK authorities said on Thursday.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab described it as "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 UK will continue to counter those conducting such cyber attacks, and work with our allies to hold perpetrators to account," he said.

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The next critical phase for The University of Queensland’s COVID-19 vaccine is underway – with the research effort moving out of the lab and into human trials. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Supplied
The next critical phase for The University of Queensland’s COVID-19 vaccine is underway – with the research effort moving out of the lab and into human trials. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Supplied

 

 

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The UK National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) report was published in conjunction with Canadian security services and with the backing of US agencies.

It said throughout 2020, the group has targeted organisations involved in vaccine development in the UK, Canada and the US with malware and phishing emails "highly likely with the intention of stealing information and intellectual property relating to the development and testing of COVID-19 vaccines."

The group uses custom malware known as "WellMess" and "WellMail" the agency said. It has also used phishing emails to gain authentication credentials in order to gain persistent access to systems. The NCSC report also detailed how organisations can protect themselves from attacks.

It came on the same day that Britain's government accused Russia of meddling in the 2019 election after leaked documents on a UK-US trade deal were published by the opposition Labour Party.

Mr Raab said the attempt at meddling was "completely unacceptable". Labour also condemned any attempt by Russia to "interfere in our country's democratic processes".

Russia's Kremlin has denied the claims with spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying "we have no information on who could have hacked pharmaceutical companies and research centres in Britain."

"We can only say this: Russia has nothing to do with these attempts. We do not accept such accusations nor the latest groundless allegations of interference in 2019 elections."

A wider report on Russian interference in the UK election is due next week.

victoria.craw@news.com.au | @Victoria_Craw

 

Originally published as Russia intelligence 'hacked virus vaccine'



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