Britain, the US, and Canada accused Russia on Thursday of trying to steal information from researchers seeking a COVID-19 vaccine, the AP reports. The three nations alleged that hacking group APT29, also known as Cozy Bear and said to be part of the Russian intelligence service, is attacking academic and pharmaceutical research institutions involved in coronavirus vaccine development. Britain's National Cyber Security Centre made the announcement, which was coordinated with authorities in the US and Canada. "It is completely unacceptable that the Russian intelligence services are targeting those working to combat the coronavirus pandemic,'' Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a statement.
"While others pursue their selfish interests with reckless behavior, the UK and its allies are getting on with the hard work of finding a vaccine and protecting global health," he added. The persistent and ongoing attacks are seen by intelligence officials as an effort to steal intellectual property rather than to disrupt research. The campaign of "malicious activity'' is ongoing and includes attacks "predominantly against government, diplomatic, think tank, health care, and energy targets,'' the NCSC said in a statement. It was unclear whether any information actually was stolen but the center says individuals' confidential information isn't believed to have been compromised. US authorities have for months leveled similar accusations against China.