Hackers Targeting UK Universities To Steal Coronavirus Research

Hostile states are attempting to hack British universities and scientific facilities to steal research related to Covid-19, including vaccine development, according to the Guardian. The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said the proportion of such targeted cyber-attacks had increased, branding the criminal activity “reprehensible”. There are thought to be dozens of universities and institutions with biomedical capacity working on Covid-19 research, ranging from new diagnostic and antibody tests to experimental treatment. However, it is understood there have been no successful attacks on universities or research institutions to date.

Experts Comments

May 05, 2020
Jake Moore
Cybersecurity Specialist
ESET
Criminal attackers revel in the weaknesses that humans offer. They are quick to target vulnerabilities, wherever they may lie. Universities will not usually be a key target, like financial institutions are usually, but now it could be argued that the coronavirus vaccine is more valuable than anything in a bank. Universities tend to suffer from other types of cyber-attacks, such as denial of service attacks where their websites are taken out – often by the students themselves. However, this is .....Read More
Criminal attackers revel in the weaknesses that humans offer. They are quick to target vulnerabilities, wherever they may lie. Universities will not usually be a key target, like financial institutions are usually, but now it could be argued that the coronavirus vaccine is more valuable than anything in a bank. Universities tend to suffer from other types of cyber-attacks, such as denial of service attacks where their websites are taken out – often by the students themselves. However, this is totally different and threat actors from all over the world are all now descending on them at once. With the latest risks attached to home working and remote logging in, extra protection is vital – especially when the threats come from even further afield around the world, whether it be hostile states or individual threat groups targeting weaknesses in the current defenses. Many attacks will start with extremely well-crafted targeted spear phishing emails that look genuine to the untrained eye, so anyone in these universities must remain extra vigilant to the heightened threat.  Read Less
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