The UK Government has released a joint statement with the US and Canada claiming Moscow has sought to infiltrate research from pharmaceutical companies and universities.
It is believed Cozy Bear, a group linked to the Russian government, have sought to steal the information to help the country’s own efforts to fight the pandemic.
The sophisticated attack is ongoing, with British cyber experts working to defend research institutes, laboratories and other targets in the UK, according to a branch of the spy agency GCHQ.
The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) – the lead organisation in responding to UK cyber attacks – accused the hackers of the attacks on research facilities working towards coronavirus vaccines and treatments.
It said the Cozy Bear group, also knows as APT29, “almost certainly operates as part of Russian intelligence services”.
APT stands for advanced persistent threats.
Paul Chichester, the NCSC’s director of operations, said in a statement: “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.”
More to follow…