Russian Hackers Trying to Steal COVID-19 Vaccine Data, Say Intelligence Agencies

July 16, 2020 Updated: July 16, 2020

OTTAWA—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.

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.