US, UK, and Canada alleged Thursday that Russia conducted cyberattacks on COVID-19 research


On Thursday, cybersecurity officials in the US, UK, and Canada alleged that Russian-backed hacking group APT29, also known as “the Dukes” or “Cozy Bear”, has conducted cyberattacks targeting organizations involved in COVID-19 vaccine research (CNN). ~

The group is suspected of intending to steal intellectual property and information regarding development of the COVID-19 vaccine (BBC). However, according to the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), vaccine research in the United Kingdom was not hindered by the hackers (BBC). One cybersecurity expert suggests other groups could be involved as well, though no other specific names or groups have been identified (BBC). ~

According to NCSC, APT29 has exploited organizations globally, and is “almost certainly” part of the Russian Intelligence Services (BBC).  Officials claim the group uses a variety of techniques and tools including custom malware known as “WellMess” and “WellMail” and spear-phishing (Fox News). The group was also identified as one of the two Russian government-linked groups that broke into the Democratic National Committee computer network shortly before the 2016 elections (Fox News). APT29 has also been accused of attacking Norway’s Labour Party, defence ministry, foreign ministry, and national security service in 2017 (BBC). ~

While British, Canadian, and US officials allege that APT29 is part of the Russian Intelligence Services, the Kremlin denies involvement in the recent hackings (CNN). Spokesperson for President Putin, Dmitry Peskov, stated on the 16th that Russia “[does] not have information about who may have hacked into pharmaceutical companies and research centres in Great Britain” (BBC). Dominic Raab – the UK’s Foreign Secretary –  released a statement admonishing the Russian Intelligence Services, saying “It is completely unacceptable that [they] are targeting those working to combat the coronavirus pandemic” (Fox News). He continues, “While others pursue their selfish interests with reckless behavior, the U.K. and its allies are getting on with the hard work of finding a vaccine and protecting global health” (Fox News). ~


Leave a Reply