(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

“We have to make a call out to address this now so our people don’t have to feel fearful,” said Tribal Chief Mina Holmes. (Carrier Sekani Tribal Council Facebook photo)
Carrier Sekani Tribal Council seeks Indigenous-led task force in northern B.C. hospitals

Request made in an open letter to federal minister Carolyn Bennett

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

Screen shot of a cabin somewhere in the Bulkley Valley from rare 1955 film footage of the area.
VIDEO: More rare film footage of the Bulkley Valley in 1955

Can you help identify the locations and/or people in these videos

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 to win the baseball World Series in Game 6 Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
L.A. Dodgers beat Rays 3-1 to win 1st World Series title since 1988

National League champs claim crown in six games

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in an apartment in Langley in July. (Langley Advance Times files)
Child’s body cold, no pulse: Off-duty cop testifies in Langley mother’s murder trial

The seven-year-old girl’s mother faces a first-degree murder charge

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Tyrell Giroux was arrested by Williams Lake RCMP on Sunday, Oct. 25. (Facebook video screenshot)
Tsilhqot’in leaders call for suspension of officers seen in controversial Williams Lake arrest

Disturbing video demands an immediate, independent investigation, says TNG

People march during a climate strike in Montreal, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Judge rejects 15 youths’ climate change lawsuit against Canadian government

Justice Michael Manson has granted the government’s motion to strike the plaintiffs’ claim

A woman walks through check in at WestJet at Pearson International airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Strong support for pre-flight COVID testing ahead of upcoming WestJet trial: YVR

Airport is partnering with UBC, which is helping choose the method of pre-flight testing

Alex Cuba took the stage this summer at a scaled back Canada Celebration. (Marisca Bakker photo)
Alex Cuba, up for two Latin Grammy awards, will perform on show November 19

Alex Cuba, up for two Latin Grammy awards, will play on show November 19

Most Read