Russia accused of hacking coronavirus vaccine research data

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NBC) – Friday morning, Russian hackers were accused of cyber interference again. This time, for targeting COVID-19 vaccine research centers.

U.S., British, and Canadian intelligence agencies accused hackers that go by “Cozy Bear” and “APT29” of trying to steal details of the development and testing of COVID-19 vaccines.

The group Cozy Bear is long believed to have ties to Russian intelligence.

Britain’s National Cyber Security Center first noticed the hacks as early as February.

National Cyber Security Center CEO Ciaran Martin said, “It is one of the most sophisticated and one of the most targeted that we’ve seen and that we’ve evidence of against vaccines, which is why we’ve made the announcement.”

Russia denies the allegations, calling the U.K.’s accusations vague and controversial.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said, “We’re all trying to find a vaccine that both our people and people around the world can benefit from. To have the Russian government engaged in that endeavor needs calling out and I think the world should know it.”

The same group, Cozy Bear, was also thought to be behind the cyber hacks of the D.N.C. in 2016.

And while there’s no evidence the Russian hackers were able to steal any details, they are not thought to be the only country trying.

China is also being called out by Attorney General Bob Barr. He said, “Hackers have targeted American universities and firms in a bid to steal the IP related to coronavirus treatments and vaccines, sometimes disrupting the work of our researchers.”

The global race to find a COVID cure is becoming a virus of its own.

The intelligence community says the goal appears to have been to get information about research and supply chains, not about studies or patient data. And again, they stress that there is no evidence that any data was stolen.

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