(The Canadian Press)

Russian hackers seeking to steal COVID-19 vaccine data: intel agencies

It is believed APT29, also known as ‘the Dukes’ or ‘Cozy Bear’ was responsible

Canadian, British and U.S. security services say hackers they believe are working for Russian intelligence have been trying to steal research on COVID-19 vaccines from organizations in all three countries and around the world.

Canada’s Communications Security Establishment says the malicious cyberactivities were very likely undertaken to pilfer information and intellectual property relating to the development and testing of vaccines for the novel coronavirus.

The cyberspy agency says the clandestine activity is hindering response efforts at a time when health-care experts and medical researchers need every available resource to help fight the pandemic.

The CSE’s Centre for Cyber Security assesses that APT29, also known as ”the Dukes” or “Cozy Bear,” was responsible, and almost certainly operates as part of Russian intelligence services.

“The group uses a variety of tools and techniques to predominantly target governmental, diplomatic, think-tank, health-care and energy targets for intelligence gain,” says a joint advisory from the CSE and its allies.

“APT29 is likely to continue to target organizations involved in COVID-19 vaccine research and development, as they seek to answer additional intelligence questions relating to the pandemic.”

This assessment is supported by partners at Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters’ National Cyber Security Centre, the U.S. National Security Agency, and the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

The CSE is urging Canadian health organizations to review a technical advisory on the threat and to take any necessary actions to protect themselves. “We encourage them as well to contact the Cyber Centre if they suspect they have been targeted by cyberactors.”

The joint advisory says APT29 targeted COVID-19 vaccine research and development by scanning specific computer IP addresses of interest for vulnerabilities, a tactic that can help the group obtain login credentials to systems.

“This broad targeting potentially gives the group access to a large number of systems globally, many of which are unlikely to be of immediate intelligence value,” the advisory says.

“The group may maintain a store of stolen credentials in order to access these systems in the event that they become more relevant to their requirements in the future.”

By Jim Bronskill , The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Wet’suwet’en checkpoint material remains alongside forest service road

Checkpoint featured in Coastal GasLink pipeline protests

Burns Lake local captures cycle of life

Burns Lake Brian Mailloux captured a photo of this Golden Eagle with… Continue reading

LDAC features Tweedsmuir Fiddlers and Thea Neumann at Burns Lake Community Market

The Tweedsmuir Fiddlers entertained shoppers with their performance two weeks back during… Continue reading

CNC Lakes District Campus in Burns Lake lays off Academic Upgrading faculty

Introduces two new credentialed programs for Fall 2020

B.C. records new COVID-19 death, 85 more cases; Horgan calls on celebrity help

This brings the total number of active confirmed cases to 531 across the province

Large missing python found ssssafe in Victoria after being on the lam for weeks

The snake was located more than six kilometres from where it went missing

B.C. announces multi-year plan to double treatment beds for youth with addiction

This will bring the total number of new beds specific to those 12 to 24 years old to 247 province-wide

B.C. man who nearly died from COVID-19 reflects on one-month battle

Robert Billyard was in an induced coma to ensure his body would not fight the ventilator to breathe

Wedding party bear sprayed at Okanagan campsite irks locals

Latest criminal activity at the Meadows leaves locals frustrated

Paramedics fired for allowing patient to crawl for treatment on Downtown Eastside: court documents

The man spent three days in intensive care and three months recovering in hospital from sepsis

Feds seeking private consultant to design firearm buyback program

The ban covers some 1,500 models and variants of what the government considers assault-style weapons

Face masks for teachers can impact learning on young children, experts say

Face coverings, mandatory in most indoor public places across the province, can help limit the spread of COVID-19

Most Read