Fri | Aug 14, 2020

UK, US, Canada accuse Russia of hacking virus vaccine trials

Published:Thursday | July 16, 2020 | 9:18 AM
In this March 16, 2020, file photo, a subject receives a shot in the first-stage safety study clinical trial of a potential vaccine by Moderna for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

LONDON (AP) — Britain, the United States and Canada accused Russia on Thursday of trying to steal information from researchers seeking a COVID-19 vaccine.

The three nations alleged that 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 coronavirus vaccine development.

Britain’s National Cybersecurity Centre made the announcement, which was coordinated with authorities in the US and Canada.

“It is completely unacceptable that the Russian Intelligence Services are targeting those working to combat the coronavirus pandemic,″ Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a statement.

“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 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, healthcare and energy targets,″ the National Cybersecurity Centre said in a statement.

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

The Russian Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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