A group of hackers linked to Russian intelligence has been conducting cyberattacks on numerous organizations involved in creating and testing coronavirus vaccines. The U.K. National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) published an advisory that the group, known as “Cozy Bear,” has been engaged in a campaign targeting “government, diplomatic, think-tank, healthcare and energy targets to steal valuable intellectual property.”
Security and intelligence officials in the United States and Canada have issued similar warnings about Russian hackers and backed up the intelligence report published by the NCSC.
The hacking group reportedly exploited security flaws in vulnerable computers and installed malware, which they used to upload and download files. They also used phishing attacks to get workers to provide their login credentials.
The hackers did not appear to be trying to impede the research, but were instead attempting to steal research data and other intellectual property that might be helpful to the development of a vaccine.
Officials did not say whether the hackers managed to steal anything of value.
“We condemn these despicable attacks against those doing vital work to combat the coronavirus pandemic,” NCSC Director of Operations, Paul Chichester, said in a statement. “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 organizations to familiarize themselves with the advice we have published to help defend their networks.”