(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

Seniors group recommends website to members with tech issues

The Wells Gray Country Seniors Society (WGCSS) has run a program called “Cyber Seniors” since 2015.

B.C. prepares back-to-school plan for students in COVID-19

Districts will be refining preparations up to Sept. 8

New cannabis shop does well in first weeks

Clearwater’s first cannabis shop, the Interior Cannabis Company, is doing well in its first few weeks of operation.

Clearwater Hockey School cancelled

The District of Clearwater has decided not to run the Clearwater Hockey… Continue reading

Early policing in the North Thompson

By Nelson Hindle The following is an excerpt from Upper North Thompson… Continue reading

B.C. records 30-50 new COVID-19 cases a day over weekend, no new deaths

Many of those testing positive were identified by contact tracing for being linked to other confirmed infections

Five B.C. First Nations call out Canada for ‘discriminatory’ food fish practices

West Coast nations say government ignoring court-won right to chinook and coho

Salmon arrive in larger numbers at Big Bar landslide

Arrival follows historic high-water levels that halted migration runs

Rent-relief program becomes new front in fight between Liberals, opposition

Opposition trying to draw parallels between decision to have Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. run program and the WE controversy

Ottawa sets minimum unemployment rate at 13.1% for EI calculation

Statistics Canada says the unemployment rate was 10.9 per cent in July

$45K in donations received after couple’s sudden death in Tulameen

Sarah MacDermid, 31, and Casey Bussiere, 37, died August long weekend

Famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer brings movements of joy to Long Beach

Internet-famous dancer is exploring Vancouver Island, visiting the B.C. Legislature and more

Battle of Fairy Creek: blockade launched to save Vancouver Island old-growth

‘Forest Defenders’ occupy road to prevent logging company from reaching Port Renfrew-area watershed

Most Read