Russian hackers target coronavirus vaccine

The National Cyber Security Centre has warned that Russian hackers are targeting organisations trying to develop a coronavirus vaccine.

The hackers, who ‘almost certainly’ operated as ‘part of Russian intelligence services’, reported to be ‘APT29’, used malware to try and steal information relating to coronavirus vaccine development. They exploited software flaws to get access to vulnerable computer systems, and used malware called WellMess and WellMail to upload and download files from infected machines.

As well as the NCSC, the warning was made by Canadian Communication Security Establishment (CSE); the United States Department for Homeland Security (DHS) Cyber-security Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA); and the US National Security Agency (NSA).

The joint warning does not specify which organisations were targeted, or whether any information had been stolen, but says that the APT29 group has targeted various organisations involved in vaccine development in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom, ‘highly likely with the intention of stealing information and intellectual property relating to the development and testing of Covid-19 vaccines’.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: "It is 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."




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