According to a government security agency, state-sponsored hackers launched cyber-attacks for the COVID 19 vaccine, against UK universities. They were trying to steal research on developing the vaccine. So, they believe that Russia, Iran and China might have been behind this attack which targeted academic institutions. One of the targets was Oxford University, which started human clinical trials on a vaccine, this week.
Still, no successful attacks have been reported by now, but there are lots of organizations in UK working on treatments and/or tests for coronavirus.
“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 organizations targeted,” a spokesperson from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) told the Guardian.
Still, a spokesperson from the Oxford University said that the institution “is working closely with the NSSC ( ) to ensure our COVID-19 research has the best cybersecurity and protection.”
The chance to have a COVID 19 vaccine triggers more attacks
Thus, the Oxford University representatives mentioned that if the vaccine is successful, researchers will team up with Cambridge-based drug firm AstraZeneca to manufacture and distribute it.
The UK’s security sector has been under cyber-threats for a longer time. As a result, the stakes have raised significantly during the crisis. The NSCS issued a report last September regarding the threat from state-sponsored attackers and cyber-criminals.
Afterwards, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) body asked universities to improve user security awareness. Also, they asked for universities to tighten access controls and revisit network architecture to segment high-value data.
James Sullivan, former cyber-analyst for the National Crime Agency, mentioned that “We’re seeing those geopolitcal tensions played out in this space”. So, he was talking about the cyber-attacks from hostile nation states or organised criminals. Also, he added that, in the context of the COVID 19 vaccine efforts, “this is particularly true for those universities which prize innovation and research partnerships.”