U.K., U.S., And Canada Accuse Russian Group ‘Cozy Bear’ For Trying To Steal COVID-19 Vaccine Research

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American, British, and Canadian Governments have accused the hacking group, Cozy Bear or APT29, tied to the Russian government for trying to steal COVID-19 vaccine and treatment research as well as information around medical supply chains, from academic institutions, reports New York Times.

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As per the cybersecurity experts, Russians were aiming to steal the research data from other countries to quickly develop their own vaccine. As a part of the hack attacks, Russian hackers are using malware and fraud emails, to target British, Canadian, and American institutions. They have been trying to trick the employees of these organizations to provide their passwords and other security-related information. The malware used by Cozy Bear to steal the research had codes named as “WellMess” and “WellMail.”

“We condemn these despicable attacks against those doing vital work to combat the coronavirus pandemic,” said Paul Chichester, the director of operations for Britain’s National Cyber Security Center. The report further states that the main target of these cyber-attacks includes Oxford University in Britain and the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, which are together working on a vaccine.

Russian officials, however, have denied the accusation saying they’re not aware who could have hacked the research centers in Britain. According to the Russian official, the accusation was an attempt to discredit Moscow’s vaccine work. Dmitri S. Peskov, the spokesman for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, further said the accusations are “unacceptable” and that “Russia has nothing to do with these attempts”.

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Although the accusations have been denied by the Russians, American experts have said that the tactics used in trying to obtain access to the vaccine data seem similar to the ones by Russian Intelligence officials. The report states that American officials were confident that attacks are tied to the Russian hacking group.

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