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Expert warns ‘IT is strained’ over Russian cyber play for vaccine

by Peter Smyth Tech Journalist
17th Jul 20 11:12 am

On Thursday the UK, Canada and the US have claimed that an ongoing Russian cyber-attack is happening as the cyber spies are trying to steal scientific research into coronavirus vaccines.

GCHQ cyber spy experts are working to defend research institutes and other targets across the UK as the cyber-attack was currently ongoing.

GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) have accused a Russian group called APT29 also known as the “Cozy Bear” for the cyber-attacks.

The NCSC said that APT29 (advanced persistent threats) “almost certainly operates as part of Russian intelligence services.”

On the news of the Russian attempt to steal the coronavirus vaccine from research institutions in the UK, US and Canada, Bill Conner, cyber security expert and CEO of SonicWall provides his expert commentary.

Conner said, “Cybercriminals perpetrate their attacks for one or more of four core motives: financial gain, political interference, creating general havoc and stealing intellectual property. Never has this last aim been more apparent than now, at a time when Russia is vying for dominance. The coronavirus vaccine, urgently coveted by all countries, can grant a significant advantage.

“The Russian intelligence group suspected of deploying this attack, APT29 or ‘Cosy Bear’ has deployed malware strains to access research organisations’ systems, and social engineering attacks like phishing and spear-phishing to trick employees into handing over access credentials.

“At a time when remote working has rendered everyone more susceptible to social engineering, given the lack of the common ‘safety net’, businesses, higher education and governments — especially those in possession of vital research and information — must remain hyper-vigilant. Keeping in mind that IT teams are strained and security budgets are tight, businesses and organisations need a solution that offers easy, resource-saving centralised management.”

Bill advises the UK Government on cyber defense, and has created the UK e-passport encryption as well as INTERPOL’s own smart-ID.

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