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article imagePotential state-backed cyber attacks against vaccine development Special

By Tim Sandle     Nov 17, 2020 in Health
According to Microsoft, state-backed hackers from North Korea and Russia have been targeting organizations working on a coronavirus vaccine, using 'brute force' tactics to get into accounts.
According to the BBC, Microsoft have identified a Russian group nicknamed "Fancy Bear" and North Korean groups dubbed "Zinc" and "Cerium", who have been carrying out cyberattacks against vaccine manufacturers. The U.K.'s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has previously said Russian hackers were targeting vaccine research. The hackers have purportedly been attempting to steal people’s credentials like passwords.
Looking into the issue for Digital Journal, is Steve Forbes, Government Cyber Security Expert at Nominet.
According to Forbes: “These recent attacks on global organisations developing the COVID-19 vaccines demonstrates how cyber crime can hit right at the heart of a societal problem. While pharmaceutical manufacturing might not be what we traditionally consider as critical national infrastructure, it is critical to the world at large right now. Any disruption to this process could have serious consequences."
There are other consequences as well, as Forbes finds: “It also highlights that many of these nation-backed attacks are not sophisticated, in this case using ‘brute force’ tactics by trying to log in to accounts by using millions of different passwords. The best defence against this type of attack is following strong cyber best-practices, for example, advising users not to use the same passwords."
In terms of developing solutions, Forbes sees collaboration as key, noting: “The cyber industry in collaboration with government have a responsibility to build our nation’s defence against these types of attacks. From identifying where education needs to take place, through to technologies that can build a broad foundation of security."
As an example, Forbes says: "Take the many front-line health bodies being onboarded on to Active Cyber Defence Services in response to the pandemic, for example. The more we can pull together in our cyber defence, taking advantage of collective intelligence and counter defence, the stronger we will be.”
More about Covid19, Cyberattacks, Cybersecurity, coronavirus
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