CORONAVIRUS

UK, US, Canada Accuse Russia Of Hacking Virus Vaccine Trials

Jul 16, 2020, 10:47 AM
FILE (Photo by Leonardo Fernandez Viloria/Getty Images)...
FILE (Photo by Leonardo Fernandez Viloria/Getty Images)
(Photo by Leonardo Fernandez Viloria/Getty Images)

LONDON (AP) — Britain, the United States and Canada accused Russian hackers on Thursday of trying to steal information from researchers seeking a coronavirus vaccine, warning scientists and pharmaceutical companies to be alert for suspicious activity.

Intelligence agencies in the three nations alleged that the hacking group APT29, also known as Cozy Bear and said to be part of the Russian intelligence service, is attacking academic and pharmaceutical research institutions involved in COVID-19 vaccine development.

“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, accusing Moscow of pursuing “selfish interests with reckless behavior.”

Russia’s Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The persistent and ongoing attacks are seen by intelligence officials as an effort to steal intellectual property, rather than to disrupt research. The campaign of “malicious activity” is ongoing and includes attacks “predominantly against government, diplomatic, think tank, health care and energy targets,” Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre said in a statement.

Britain’s NCSC said its assessment was shared by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency and the National Security Agency, and by the Canadian Communication Security Establishment.

It was unclear whether any information actually was stolen, but the U.K. says individuals’ confidential information is not believed to have been compromised.

The U.K. statement did not say whether Russian President Vladimir Putin knew about the vaccine research hacking, but British officials believe such intelligence would be highly prized.

A 16-page advisory prepared by Western agencies accuses Cozy Bear of using custom malicious software to target a number of organizations globally. The malware, called WellMess and WellMail, has not previously been associated with the hacking group, the advisory said.

“In recent attacks targeting COVID-19 vaccine research and development, the group conducted basic vulnerability scanning against specific external IP addresses owned by the organizations. The group then deployed public exploits against the vulnerable services identified,” the advisory said.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity agency warned in April that cybercriminals and other groups were targeting COVID-19 research, noting at the time that the increase in people teleworking because of the pandemic had created potential avenues for hackers to exploit.

The global reach and international supply chains of these organizations also make them vulnerable, the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said in an alert published in conjunction with its counterparts in Britain.

CISA said it and the British cyberseucity agency have detected the threat groups scanning the external websites of targeted companies and looking for vulnerabilities in unpatched software. It did not identify any of the targeted companies.

U.S. authorities have for months leveled similar accusations against China. FBI Director Chris Wray said last week, “At this very moment, China is working to compromise American health care organizations, pharmaceutical companies, and academic institutions conducting essential COVID-19 research.”

—-

Associated Press writers Ben Fox and Eric Tucker in Washington contributed.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Coronavirus

FILE: Davis School District....
Mike Anderson

Davis School District adds resources to handle COVID-19

The Davis School District is shifting their approach to COVID, putting more decisions in the hands of parents while getting more funds to help monitor the virus.
3 days ago
(KSL TV)...
Associated Press

CDC drops quarantine, distancing recommendations for COVID

The nation's top public health agency relaxed its COVID-19 guidelines Thursday, dropping the recommendation that Americans quarantine themselves if they come into close contact with an infected person.
4 days ago
...
Ashley Moser

Utah family hasn’t seen father in nearly 1,000 days due to COVID-19 travel restrictions

“None of us were expecting to not see him three years later,” a daughter shares how her Father remains in China.
5 days ago
People line up for nucleic acid testing in Sanya, 'China's Hawaii', on August 6. (VCG/Getty Images)...
Simone McCarthy and CNN's Beijing bureau

Covid lockdown strands 80,000 tourists in ‘China’s Hawaii’

Around 80,000 tourists are stranded in the popular resort city of Sanya on China's tropical Hainan island after authorities announced lockdown measures to stem an outbreak of Covid-19.
8 days ago
TOKYO, JAPAN - JUNE 29: Women in rental kimonos walk through the Asakusa area on June 29, 2022 in T...
Lilit Marcus, CNN

Japan is open to travel. So why aren’t tourists coming back?

Even though Japan partially reopened its borders for tourists, only about 1,500 visitors went to the country during its peak travel season.
15 days ago
President Joe Biden removes his mask as he delivers remarks on the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 ...
ZEKE MILLER, Associated Press

Biden tests positive for COVID-19, returns to isolation

The White House says President Joe Biden tested positive for COVID-19 again Saturday, slightly more than three days after he was cleared to exit coronavirus isolation.
16 days ago

Sponsored Articles

tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
cyber security through multi factor authentication setup...
Les Olson IT

How multi factor authentication setup helps companies stay safe

Multi factor authentication (MFA) setup is an important security measure that every company should implement for their workers. It’s also wise to install it for your personal and home accounts.
...
Lighting Design

Check out these stunning lamps with stained glass shades

Lamps with stained glass shades are statement pieces that are more than simply aesthetic. They also meet a functional requirement: to light up a room.
Address Bar of internet browser shows internet access...
AARP Utah

Utah voters 50+ support increased access to Internet

The AARP surveyed Utah voters aged 50 plus about internet access and if they support the expansion of broadband, especially in rural areas currently lacking it.
UK, US, Canada Accuse Russia Of Hacking Virus Vaccine Trials