UK accuses Russia of trying to steal Covid vaccine research | #corporatesecurity | #businesssecurity | #

Representational image| A magnified coronavirus illustration in a lab inside the Pasteur Institute | Adrienne Surprenant | Bloomberg

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London/Edinburgh: The U.K. accused Russian state intelligence of hacking international pharmaceutical and academic research in a bid to win the race to secure a vaccine against Covid-19.
British officials said their assessment was backed up security agencies in the U.S. and Canada and warned that the cyber attacks are ongoing. It is unclear whether research facilities have been damaged or if the vaccine programs have been set back as a result of the hacks.

In a dramatic statement on Thursday, Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said vaccine and therapeutic sectors in multiple countries have been targeted by a group known as APT29, which it said is “almost certainly” part of Russian state intelligence.

“It is completely unacceptable that the Russian intelligence services are targeting those working to combat the coronavirus pandemic,” British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said.

“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,” Raab said. “The U.K. will continue to counter those conducting such cyber attacks, and work with our allies to hold perpetrators to account.”

The intelligence bombshell came at a delicate time in geopolitics with a combative U.S. election looming in November and the pandemic plunging the world economy into recession. Coronavirus has launched a global race for a vaccine, in which researchers in the U.K. have made progress recently.

Also read: Controversies over coronavirus research show science isn’t broken

Cozy bear

The NCSC said APT29, which also goes by the name of Cozy Bear or The Dukes, has targeted U.K., U.S. and Canadian vaccine research and development organizations. The campaign of malicious activity is ongoing, predominantly against government, diplomatic, think-tank, healthcare and energy targets to steal valuable intellectual property, according to the NCSC.

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