Health

Russian hackers caught trying to steal coronavirus vaccine research

Salaam Times and AFP

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Doctors in Maryland, United States, in March work on virus research at one of the labs developing a vaccine for COVID-19. [Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP]

LONDON -- Russian hackers are targeting organisations involved in coronavirus vaccine development, UK security officials revealed Thursday (July 16).

Britain's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said the attacks by the group APT29 were ongoing but targets have so far included UK, US and Canadian vaccine research and development organisations.

"The NCSC assesses that APT29, also named 'the Dukes' or 'Cozy Bear', almost certainly operate as part of Russian Intelligence Services," it said, adding that the US and Canadian security agencies shared this view.

"APT29’s campaign of malicious activity is ongoing, predominantly against government, diplomatic, think-tank, healthcare and energy targets to steal valuable intellectual property," the NCSC said.

"We condemn these despicable attacks against those doing vital work to combat the coronavirus pandemic," said NCSC Director of Operations Paul Chichester.

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab expressed outrage at the findings, which were published alongside an advisory on how organisations can help protect themselves from cyber attacks.

"It is completely unacceptable that the Russian Intelligence Services are targeting those working to combat the coronavirus pandemic," he said.

Cyber-attacks, disinformation campaigns

The warning adds to a series of alerts and reports accusing government-backed hackers in Iran, North Korea, Russia and China of malicious activity related to the coronavirus pandemic, from pumping out false news to targeting workers and scientists.

Chinese-backed hackers are attempting to steal research and intellectual property related to treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) warned May 13.

That month, Britain and the United States also warned of a rise in cyber-attacks against health professionals by organised criminals "often linked with other state actors."

CISA and the NCSC said they had detected large-scale "password spraying" tactics -- hackers trying to access accounts through commonly used passwords -- aimed at healthcare bodies and medical research organisations.

Meanwhile, the Chinese and Russian regimes in particular have stepped up co-operation to spread false narratives over the coronavirus pandemic.

"Even before the COVID-19 crisis, we assessed a certain level of co-ordination between Russia and the People's Republic of China in the realm of propaganda," said Lea Gabrielle, co-ordinator of the US State Department's Global Engagement Centre, which tracks foreign propaganda.

"But with this pandemic the co-operation has accelerated rapidly," she told reporters May 8, according to AFP.

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It is very shameful as Russian which considers itself very strong goes and steals America's academic researches.

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Russia has the most powerful intelligence in the world, which is called KGB. KGB is the world's most effective information-gathering agency. This agency has very skillful and experienced hackers. Russian hackers are even aware of all the intelligence data of the United States, which is considered a chronic enemy of Russia. These hackers are aware of any new things that the United States discovers. They steal the new researches and discoveries that are done in the United States, because no one in the world can compete with America in the fields of science and technology, medicine, weapon, NASA researches, etc. For this reason, Russia has always tried to steal America's researches and discoveries by its hackers. And this time also this country has attempted to steal the formula of of COVID-19 vaccine. Thank you very much from your newspaper. It was very interesting information. Reports that you publish are not published by any other media outlets. Your reports are often new and interesting to us. And other good thing about your media outlet is that it publishes news in three languages. I often compare Dari and Pashto sentences with those of English and practice my English this way. Now my English is pretty good than before. When I read the English text, I comprehend it very well, but I have trouble only in writing in English.

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Russians are very ashamed people. So far, they did not do anything that can cause goodness to the world. Russia, China, America, Britain and the G7 or G8 countries which have powerful economies should all destroy their nuclear weapons, stop making other weapons, and spend their money for the welfare of humans so that the great world of God becomes even greater. The nuclear weapons will ultimately destroy the world one day, and will again kill, injure and disable God's beautiful creatures the way it did in Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Don't let the world suffer from that big sorrow again. Long live to peace in the world and especially in Afghanistan.

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