It has been reported that one of the world’s top biology labs—one whose renowned professors have been researching how to counter the Covid-19 pandemic—has been hacked. Oxford University confirmed on Thursday it had detected and isolated an incident at the Division of Structural Biology (known as “Strubi”) after Forbes disclosed that hackers were showing off access to a number of systems. These included machines used to prepare biochemical samples, though the university said it couldn’t comment further on the scale of the breach. It has contacted the National Cyber Security Center (NCSC), a branch of the British intelligence agency GCHQ, which will now investigate the attack.
<p>The reported hacking of an Oxford University biolab by threat actors is another gutless and abhorrent act by cyber criminals. Due to the magnitude of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the fact that nearly 3 million people have died from the virus worldwide, I categorise this latest breach as an act of cyber terrorism. In the perfect world, loathsome groups like this would be brought to justice to face severe punishment. Unfortunately, we don\’t live in a perfect world, and cyber gangs will continue to carry out these attacks because time and time again they are successful.Oftentimes, these gangs are working as contractors for nation-states and by gaining access to the proprietary information Oxford\’s researchers have likely spent months working on, they will see a big payday. The good news is that the security researcher stepped forward to disclose this latest intrusion and that Oxford can simultaneously assess the damage and stop further exfiltration. In the future, collaborative efforts like this will enable cyber defenders to be perched on higher ground than attackers making it much easier to stop future terrorist attempts.</p>