LONDON (AP) — Britain, the United States and Canada are accusing Russia of trying to steal information from researchers seeking a COVID-19 vaccine.
The three nations alleged Thursday that hacking group APT29, also known as Cozy Bear and believed to be part of the Russian intelligence service, is attacking academic and pharmaceutical coronavirus research institutions involved in vaccine development.
They say the persistent and ongoing attacks are seen as an effort to steal intellectual property, rather than to disrupt research.
Britain’s National Cybersecurity Centre made the announcement, coordinated with authorities in the U.S. and Canada.
The NCSC says APT29 uses a variety of tools and techniques to predominantly target governmental, diplomatic, think-tank, healthcare and energy targets for intelligence gain.
“Throughout 2020, APT29 has targeted various organizations involved in COVID-19 vaccine development in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom, highly likely with the intention of stealing information and intellectual property relating to the development and testing of COVID-19 vaccines,” wrote the NCSC.
It’s also unclear whether Russian President Vladimir Putin knew about the vaccine hacking, but officials believe such intelligence would be highly prized.