(CNN)Russian cyber actors are targeting organizations involved in coronavirus vaccine development, according to a new warning by US, UK and Canadian security officials on Thursday that details activity by a Russian hacking group called APT29, which also goes by the name “the Dukes” or “Cozy Bear.”
An advisory published by the UK National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) details activity by the Russian hacking group and explicitly calls out efforts to target US, UK and Canadian vaccine research and development organizations.
“APT29’s campaign of malicious activity is ongoing, predominantly against government, diplomatic, think tank, healthcare and energy targets to steal valuable intellectual property,” a press release on the advisory said.
Cozy Bear is one of two hacking groups linked to Russian intelligence that is believed to have accessed the Democratic National Committee’s internal systems in the lead-up to the 2016 US election, but Thursday’s announcement is the first time this group has been named in connection to cyberattacks related to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Thursday that Russia “has nothing to do” with the hacking attacks targeting organizations involved in coronavirus vaccine development, according to the state-run news agency TASS.
“We do not have information regarding who could have hacked pharmaceutical companies and research centers in the UK,” he said. Referring to a UK government statement Thursday that “it is almost certain” Russian actors sought to interfere in the country’s 2019 election, Peskov continued, saying: “We can say one thing — Russia has nothing to do with these attempts and we do not accept such accusations just like we don’t accept yet another set of unfounded accusations of interference in the 2019 elections.”
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