Britain accused Russian state intelligence operatives of hacking international pharmaceutical research in an effort to win the global race for a vaccine against Covid-19.
The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) revealed that vaccine and therapeutic sectors in multiple countries have been targeted, although it declined to list specific names of institutions on security grounds.
The NSCS named the group responsible for the hacking as APT29, adding that it is “almost certainly” an arm of Russian intelligence. The group also goes by the name of Cozy Bear or The Dukes, and has targeted vaccine research organisations in Britain, the US and Canada.
The intervention comes soon after Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, pointed the finger at Moscow for meddling in last year’s general election by amplifying hacked documents.
Earlier today, the Intelligence and Security Committee announced that it would release a much-anticipated report into Russian efforts to meddle in British politics dating back to the Brexit referendum in 2016.
Cyber security officials warned that APT29’s campaign is ongoing, and is predominately focussed on government, diplomatic, healthcare and energy targets in an attempt to steal intellectual property.
In a written statement, NSCS Director of Operations Paul Chichester said: “We condemn these despicable attacks against those doing vital work to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
“Working with our allies, the NCSC is committed to protecting our most critical assets and our top priority at this time is to protect the health sector.
“We would urge organisations to familiarise themselves with the advice we have published to help defend their networks.”