Cyber spies target UK coronavirus labs in bid to steal research on a vaccine, intelligence bosses claim

FOREIGN cyber-spies have been seeking coronavirus vaccine information from medical research organisations in the UK and US.

A senior US intelligence official and UK security sources reportedly confirmed this to the BBC.

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The BBC revealed that the US government has had to warn medical research organisations about the hacking threat.

This is according to Bill Evanina, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center.

However, he did not confirm to the news outlet whether any vaccine data has actually been stolen.

Scientists all over the globe are currently racing to find a vaccine for Covid-19, with their efforts protected by domestic spy agencies.

Evanina's company gives the US government and businesses advice on how to protect important data from foreign spies.

He told the BBC: "We have been working with our industry and government folk here very closely to ensure they are protecting all the research and data as best they can.

"We have every expectation that foreign intelligence services, to include the Chinese Communist Party, will attempt to obtain what we are making here."

The FBI appears to share these concerns as an official recently revealed that there had been "some intrusions" into coronavirus-related research organisations.

US assistant attorney general for national security, John Demers, also said it would be "beyond absurd" to think China would not be interested in this data.

However, Western spies are likely to be interested in what's happening over in China as well.

The US is reportedly using a project called Operation Warp Speed to aid vaccine creation efforts.

Evanina added: "We've been in contact with every medical research organisation that is doing the research to be very, very vigilant.

"In today's world there is nothing more valuable or worth stealing than any kind of biomedical research that is going to help with a coronavirus vaccine."

The country that creates the first safe and effective vaccine may be able make sure their citizens are protected first.

Hospitals have also been faced with cyber-threats during this global pandemic.

In April, two hospitals in the Czech Republic reportedly experienced cyber-attacks.

This led US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to state: "We call upon the actor in question to refrain from carrying out disruptive malicious cyber-activity against the Czech Republic's healthcare system or similar infrastructure elsewhere."

There are concerns that threats like this could negatively impact how a country can respond to the virus outbreak.

How to avoid falling foul of coronavirus scams

Here's what Javvad Malik, a cyber-expert at KnowBe4, told the Sun…

  • "During the pandemic, we've seen a sharp rise in criminals trying to extort money or install malware on computers and mobiles through deceptive means.
  • "Email is the most popular, but we've also seen a rise in the number of fraudulent text messages being sent.
  • "People should remain sceptical and not click on links directly, particularly if there are demands for payment.
  • "When in doubt, visit the government website directly to look for information.
  • "Organisations should also educate their staff in how they will contact and convey information to them so they are not fooled by criminals posing to be from work."

In other news, an iPhone update makes it easier to face-unlock if you’re wearing a coronavirus face mask.

Last month, experts warned that Apple and Google's contact tracing apps could pose significant risks to people's privacy.

And, Google’s coronavirus ‘contact tracing’ update won’t be coming to all Android phones.

What do you think of this cyber-spy revelation? Let us know in the comments…

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