Canada

Russian hackers targeted Canadian COVID-19 vaccine research: CSE

Politics·Breaking

A Russian hacking group has gone after COVID-19-related vaccine research in Canada, the U.K. and the U.S., according to Canada's cyber spies.

Canada says APT29 — also known as Cozy Bear and the Dukes — is responsible for the malicious attacks

Canada's Communications Security Establishment has long been warning that sophisticated threat actors could target Canadian medical research labs working on COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. (Bonnie Allen/CBC)

A Russian hacking group has gone after COVID-19-related vaccine research in Canada, the U.K. and the U.S., according to Canada's cyber spies.

The Communications Security Establishment, responsible for Canada's foreign signals intelligence, said APT29 — also known as Cozy Bear and the Dukes — is behind the malicious activity.

The group "almost certainly operates as part of Russian intelligence services," the CSE said in a statement released Thursday morning.

More details about the attacks are expected later this morning, but the CSE said Russian actors have been using custom malware known as WellMess and WellMail to target a number of organizations globally. 

"These malicious cyber activities were very likely undertaken to steal information and intellectual property relating to the development and testing of COVID-19 vaccines, and serve to hinder response efforts at a time when health-care experts and medical researchers need every available resource to help fight the pandemic," the CSE statement says. 

Similar statements from the U.S. and the U.K. are expected this morning.

In May, the CSE said authorities were investigating possible security breaches at Canadian organizations doing COVID-19-related research but did not say who was behind the attacks and where they were coming from.

The agency has been warning since the start of the crisis that Canadian intellectual property linked to the pandemic is a "valuable target" for state-sponsored actors.

More to come.

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