Report has it that hackers from Russia trying to steal COVID-19 research from US, UK and Canada. The Russian intelligence services allegedly sponsored group of hackers have been caught in an attempt to steal coronavirus vaccine research from the western countries according to an official statement from the countries.
The attack was said to have been carried out by a group called “APT29” which is also known as “The Dukes” or “Cozy Bear”. The cyber attackers began by using malware to target various organizations involved in the industry, which was said by the American, Canadian and British intelligence agencies.
“It is completely unacceptable that the Russian intelligence services are targeting those working to combat the coronavirus pandemic,” British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a statement. “While others pursue their selfish interests with reckless behavior, the U.K. and its allies are getting on with the hard work of finding a vaccine and protecting global health.”
Russia had always been accused of perpetrating numerous cyber attacks in the US and other western countries but the country had extensively denied the allegations and especially the current ones and then trying to steal COVID-19 research from US
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“We do not have information on who might have hacked into pharmaceutical companies and research centers,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russia’s TASS news agency. “We can only say one thing: Russia has nothing to do with these attempts. We do not accept these accusations, as well as the usual accusations of interference in the 2019 (U.K.) election.”
The group alleged to have carried out the attack have been well known for carrying out numerous known cyber attacks. According to the US intelligence services, the APT29 have been responsible for a slew of attacks against governments and other organizations in recent years.
As stated, the body is said to be part of the Russian intelligence services according to the joint statement by the three countries.
In fact, the APT29 have been linked with government and diplomatic targets this year as well as other think-tank organizations related to to energy as the statement also goes further that the targets were selected “likely with the intention of stealing information and intellectual property relating to the development and testing of COVID-19 vaccines.”
Ciaran Martin, CEO of the U.K.’s National Cyber Security Centre, told NBC News that the hackers used two techniques, phishing and scanning, to probe for weaknesses, and that the “behavior” had been noticed starting in February. He would not identify the targets, but said they were part of a “complex tapestry” of institutions across many nations that included “high-profile universities and private pharmaceutical companies.”
“The thing I can say today,” said Martin, “is that there’s no reason to believe that any of the vaccine research has been stolen. You can never give an absolute guarantee because cyber theft can be done in an undetectable way, but very often there are ways of telling when data has been exfiltrated, and we haven’t seen any sign of that.”
He said that prior to the pandemic, some of the organizations “wouldn’t have been targeted by an elite nation state group.” He said he deplored the actions of the hackers, but was not surprised by them, and that the pandemic had underlined the importance of digital security.
“Digital hygiene is everything,” said Martin.
Canada’s Communications Security Establishment said in a statement that the Russian hacks would “hinder response efforts at a time when health care experts and medical researchers need every available resource to help fight the pandemic.”
There had also been reports in the past that the US Presidential candidacy was boosted by the Kremlin back in 2016 although this had been extensively denied by the Russian government. Meanwhile there have been continued reports that the Russian cyber attackers had continued to interfere in American politics through disinformation on social media platforms.
There was even a revelation by the British foreign secretary who stated that the “Russian actors” had attempted to interfere with the UK’s nationwide election last year. Raab didn’t identify the group involved in the hack but said that the parliament had attempted to amplify leaked government document related to trade negations between the UK and the US.
The documents were released during a news conference by Jeremy Corbyn who was the then leader of the Labour Party claiming that the Prime Minister Boris Johnson was prepared to sell out the country’s publicly funded National Health Service for a trade deal with Trump.
The website Reddit then launched an investigation after finding the same 451-page dossier had been posted to its site as “part of a campaign that has been reported as originating from Russia.”
The reason as to why Russia trying to steal COVID-19 research from US, UK and Canada is yet to be known unless more research is done to get a good grasp of the situation meanwhile as stated earlier, this won’t be the first time that the Kremlin will be accused of such act.