In a joint statement, the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre and the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said organisations involved in the national and international coronavirus response are being targeted. The agencies added that that attacks were to “obtain intelligence on national and international healthcare policy or acquire sensitive data on COVID-19 related research”.
The statement does not name the countries behind the attacks but they are understood to include China, Russia and Iran.
The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre, which is a branch of GCHQ, has asked employees in medical research to change their passwords.
Director of operations at the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) , Paul Chichester, said: “By prioritising any requests for support from health organisations and remaining in close contact with industries involved in the coronavirus response, we can inform them of any malicious activity and take the necessary steps to help them defend against it.
“But we can’t do this alone, and we recommend healthcare policy makers and researchers take our actionable steps to defend themselves from password spraying campaigns.”
The NCSC has also warned cyber criminals could exploit the coronavirus outbreak for illegal gains.
Attackers have reported used some common passwords to try and hack into laboratories.
The University of Oxford, which is trying to develop a vaccine against COVID-19, have said they are working with the NCSC to protect their research.
Former cyber analyst James Sullivan said to The Guardian: “The pandemic will lead to a general increase in hostile state cyber-activity.
“It is a new opportunity for intelligence gathering and disruption. We’ve seen this with disinformation campaigns, cyber-espionage; there’s a risk of these all exacerbating political tension and it’s no surprise this is happening in an area such as the development of a vaccine.”
As we’ve seen with cyber-attacks, whether it’s a hostile nation state or an organised criminal, there’s no real boundaries to the types of data they try to steal, so why would this be any different if the development of a vaccine is a very competitive area? We’re seeing those geopolitical tensions played out in this space.”
The EU organised a video conference on Monday to fund research into a vaccine.
Global leaders and celebrities came together to pledge what they could to help fund the research.
The European Commission said the cash would be spent over the next two years to support various initiatives across the globe.
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Published at Tue, 05 May 2020 13:32:00 +0000