As research on COVID-19 vaccines advances at an unprecedented pace, Russian hackers have been attempting to steal research information, the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) reported last week.
The hacker group APT29 has been engaging in cyberattacks throughout the year against U.S., UK and Canadian organizations involved in COVID-19 vaccine research and development.
The group’s likely intent is to steal information and intellectual property related to vaccine development and testing research, the cybersecurity center said, noting that the group has mainly targeted government, diplomatic, think-tank, healthcare and energy-related entities in its attacks.
The group is “almost certainly part of the Russian intelligence services” and leverages malware to gain access to systems, NCSC said, noting that the group has been successful on four occasions. Once the hackers get access to a system, it is likely that it sets up persistent access by installing further malware or by obtaining login credentials.