A Russian government-backed hacking group reportedly attempted to steal research on coronavirus vaccines from the United States and its closest allies, according to a joint report from the U.S., Britain, and Canada released Thursday.
The report, published primarily through Britain’s National Cyber Security Center (NCSC), alleges the group APT29 or ‘Cozy Bear’ was responsible for attempting to break into academic and pharmaceutical institutions for information on COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, according to Reuters. ‘Cozy Bear’ is reportedly the same hacking group widely accused of breaching the Democratic Party ahead of the 2016 presidential election. Russia is the second country the U.S. has accused of attempting to steal coronavirus research, having named China earlier this spring.
“While others pursue their selfish interests with reckless behavior, the U.K. and its allies are getting on with the hard work of finding a vaccine and protecting global health,” British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said in a statement.
The U.S. has been wary of international adversaries stealing coronavirus research since May, when it accused Chinese state-backed hackers of attempting to steal information. (RELATED: Republican Senators Want To Rename Chinese Embassy Street After Chinese COVID-19 Whistleblower)
“The FBI is investigating the targeting and compromise of U.S. organizations conducting COVID-19-related research by PRC-affiliated cyber actors and non-traditional collectors,” the FBI announced at the time. “These actors have been observed attempting to identify and illicitly obtain valuable intellectual property (IP) and public health data related to vaccines, treatments, and testing from networks and personnel affiliated with COVID-19-related research. The potential theft of this information jeopardizes the delivery of secure, effective, and efficient treatment options.”
U.S. politicians have been highly critical of China since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic as it started within its borders in Wuhan and there is great evidence suggesting the Chinese Communist Party actively worked to spread misinformation about the virus on the global stage.
“Chairman Xi is an arsonist who wants to steal a firetruck and play the hero,” Republican Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse said in a statement to the Daily Caller at the time. “The Chinese Communist Party will do whatever it takes to beat the United States to the vaccine, and it has nothing to do with saving lives and everything to do with selling propaganda. The Chinese Communist Party’s domestic legitimacy and international clout depend on telling a phony story where China is the hero. It’s the same reason they’re lying about numbers, promoting conspiracy theories, and disappearing whistleblowers.”