Nation-state actors are targeting UK universities to steal info on COVID-19 research

The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) warned of targeted attacks against UK universities and scientific facilities that are involved in the COVID-19 research.

The NCSC reported that nation-state actors are carrying out cyber espionage campaigns aimed at gathering intelligence on studies conducted by UK organizations related to Coronavirus pandemic. The threat actors appear very interested in the progress of vaccination research.

Intelligence experts belive that nation-state actors behind the attack operate for Russia, Iran, and China.

“A spokesperson for the NCSC said: “Any attack against efforts to combat the coronavirus crisis is utterly reprehensible. We have seen an increased proportion of cyber-attacks related to coronavirus and our experts work around the clock to help organisations targeted.” a spokesperson for the NCSC.“However, the overall level of cyber-attacks from both criminals and states against the UK has remained stable during the pandemic.”

The NCSC pointed out that the rate of criminal and state-sponsored cyberattacks targeting UK organizations is not changed during the COVID-19 outbreak.

UK University

Early April, the health secretary, Matt Hancock, signed off a directive that gives the GCHQ intelligence agency, access and oversight to the NHS IT network. The national healthcare system is a privileged target of threat actors, especially amid Coronavirus pandemic.

“Meanwhile, a dossier prepared by governments for the so-called Five Eyes nations, an intelligence alliance between Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the US, alleges that China deliberately suppressed or destroyed evidence of the coronavirus outbreak.” reported The Guardian.

Health Secretary also announced that the UK government was “throwing everything” at developing a COVID-19 vaccine, assigning over £40 million to universities and research institutes that are working of the creation of a vaccine.

The University of Oxford has already begun human vaccine trials, and other institutes in the country will do the same very soon.

Oxford University is working with NCSC to protect any information related to the ongoing COVID-19 research.

AstraZeneca is already working with the university to manufacture and distribute the vaccine in case the clinical trials will have positive results.

“Oxford University is working closely with the NCSC to ensure our Covid-19 research has the best possible cybersecurity and protection.” said an university spokesperson.

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Pierluigi Paganini

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