back to article FYI Russia is totally hacking the West's labs in search of COVID-19 vaccine files, say UK, US, Canada cyber-spies

Russian hackers at the state's FSB spy agency have been caught breaking into Western institutions working on potential vaccines for the COVID-19 coronavirus in hope of stealing said research. That's according to the British National Cyber Security Centre and America's NSA today. The Kremlin-backed APT29 crew, also known by a …

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  1. 1752
    Mushroom

    What? are we at war with eurasia again? Did I miss a memo?

    1. DavCrav

      "What? are we at war with eurasia again? Did I miss a memo?"

      So you think Russia isn't trying to hack Covid research? Why would it not?

      1. vtcodger Silver badge

        Why?

        Why should I or anyone else care if the Russians, Chinese, or Lower Elbownians read US Coronavirus research? We ought to give them logins. Maybe that'd somehow help humanity come up with a badly needed vaccine.

        Get a grip folks.

        This sort of thing is what happens when you let people who think government can't work try to run a government.

        1. DCFusor

          Re: Why?

          Yeah, despite the downvotes you got, and I'll probably get, it seems hypocritical to claim you're all about saving lives, but then not just sharing what you know that might help.

          Does everything have to be about war and hate?

          Those things do help people in power justify their continued power, but it doesn't seem like they help us as much as simple, and traditional, scientific sharing of knowledge we can all build on - the shoulders of giants - does.

          Why is it bad for someone else to possibly learn how to cure or prevent this nasty? In truth, even clutching a solution to your chest only buys you a little time before it gets reverse engineered anyway.

          So short sighted and petty. Disgusting.

          1. Joe W Silver badge

            Re: Why?

            Well... yes and no. In principle I agree with the sentiment that the treatment formula should be free (as in speech, not beer). On the other hand I'm totally for people getting the credit they deserve. I know people whose research was stolen (not by state actors, mind) and whose research groups did suffer from being second to publish stuff. Also keep in mind that research is expensive, and somebody has to pay for this, and if it is a company that shells out for it they should at least be able to recover their expenses (also for the many failed attempts - those cost money as well!). And then some Chinese / Russian / US / EU[0] company comes along, using your recipe, maybe patenting it and protecting the use and production fiercly and you, having done the work, go bancrupt.

            [0] yeah, so you think that (in some cases state sponsored) corporate "intelligence", aka espionage, is limited to the Chinese / Russians / Iran? I don't think so....

            1. TheInstigator

              Re: Why?

              Being rooted in truth, democracy and freedom the West *NEVER* participates in espionage

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Why?

                and if you claim otherwise, you're either a Russian-paid troll or a useful idiot. Take your pick, choose your side, either with us, or against us, etc. :(

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  @AC - Re: Why?

                  "Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country." - Hermann Goering

                  1. caradoc

                    Re: @AC - Why?

                    What would we do without the Russians? Theresa May found great diversionary benefit from the Skripal affair, this is another diversion from the disaster we face with the economy.

              2. Version 1.0 Silver badge
                Joke

                Re: Why?

                "the West *NEVER* participates in espionage" ROTFLMAO!

              3. MonsieurTM

                Re: Why?

                Hahahaha!

              4. Claptrap314 Silver badge

                Re: Why?

                Thank-you president Wilson.

            2. Nifty

              Re: Why?

              The serious aspect is that what sits on the Oxford researchers storage is half baked research, work in progress. A bit dangerous in the wrong hands (a little knowledge...).

              Also let's not forget Concordski.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: So short sighted and petty.

            so... common. I remember some, vague, nothing but vague, suggestions in media that we should / will all pull together, share the vaccine (if and when), etc. Then, this silly notion that we're all in it, was quietly dropped, and all I hear is the usual spiel and drum about our figures, their hackers, our ratio, their meddling, our economy, their economies, etc. But guess what, it helps politicians everywhere to drum their (local), short-term support, because it works.

            Short-sighted is humans' 2nd name.

            1. MonsieurTM

              Re: So short sighted and petty.

              The news was full of assertions, but no proof. All this crying of "Russia hacked our elections" Russia did this, Russia did that. It sounds like a child blaming the dog that ate their homework. Come on: it is not as if Russia, China, the UK, the USA and any other nation with the resources has not been investigating a vaccine for months and months. All this so-called blame is very post-facto. Also note that the UK government has a track record in blaming others (Russia) for it's local ills. Recall when May blamed Russia for the Skripal poisoning: each time that news came out, Brexit was going south for her. A very curious correlation.... Why not make a hone-pot full of guff & let them at that instead? (Hmmm: if I can think f it, it has already been done.)

            2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: So short sighted and petty.

              "share the vaccine"

              Or the Remdesivir

        2. Roger Kynaston

          Re: Why?

          One of the problems you have here is that documents that these miscreants are likely to half inch will not be finished work but the musings along the way so will be of limited use. I know friend Vlad will want his hacker people to pass the information to his own experts so they can take credit for saving the world.

          I am sure that if said academics asked nicely the boffins at Imperial etc would share their data.

          1. Cynic_999

            Re: Why?

            Why would the boffins share data that stands to make £billions for their employer if they are successful. Never mind that by not making it freely available it will take longer to develop, costing many lives Worldwide - the money is more important

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Meh

          Re: Why?

          Why should I or anyone else care if the Russians, Chinese, or Lower Elbownians read US Coronavirus research? We ought to give them logins. Maybe that'd somehow help humanity come up with a badly needed vaccine.

          I would be concerned if the state had an active bioweapons programme. One man's plowshare is another's sword.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Why?

            "I would be concerned if the state had an active bioweapons programme. One man's plowshare is another's sword."

            Given the relatively low numbers of BAME communities in Russia, I am surprised nobody has tried suggesting it's all a filthy commie plot to wipe out the rest of the word so they can take over...

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Meh

              Re: Why?

              Given the relatively low numbers of BAME communities in Russia, I am surprised nobody has tried suggesting it's all a filthy commie plot to wipe out the rest of the word so they can take over...

              I believe Donald has already tried suggesting it is a Chinese plot. Of course, neither the Russians nor the Chinese are commie anymore.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Why?

          Maybe that'd somehow help humanity come up with a badly needed vaccine.

          I am certain if the Russians ponied up equal funding for the research they would be welcome to join. Otherwise your beef is with those dastardly scientists who expect... salaries.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @AC - Re: Why?

            Don't be so sure! Canada has suspended Chinese scientists working in this domain, for unknown unspecified reasons even there was no proof of wrongdoing. We're at war with those countries now.

        5. Cynic_999

          Re: Why?

          EXACTLY! A more pertinent question is why we are keeping such research secret. Of course, we all know the answer - the fist company to develop an effective vaccine against Covid-19 will make a fortune.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Cynic_999

        Why not indeed. All nations carry out industrial spying, including us.

    2. deadlockvictim

      Please report to Room 101

      Comrade, we have always been at war with Eurasia.

      Please report to Room 101.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mandiant? I knew them, Horatio.

    Back in those heady days before I retired, my company laptop was just about usable until one day it had Mandiant software pushed to it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Joke

      Re: Mandiant?[**] I knew them, Horatio.

      ** Other adverts for cybersecurity products also available

  3. elDog

    This is just a diversion. They (USSR/FSB/KGB) get their real feeds from BJ and DJT

    They spent their money and effort well. Now for the rewards.

    I'm guessing the western intelligence organizations have been pretty well castrated also.

    1. MonsieurTM

      Re: This is just a diversion. They (USSR/FSB/KGB) get their real feeds from BJ and DJT

      Haven't you seen the news about the CIA & Trump permitting them to run operations without any oversight? More likely it is CIA crackers pretending to be someone else....

  4. cornetman Silver badge
    WTF?

    Why would we not just give it to them?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Because whoever develops a cure or vaccine will make an obscene amount of money.

      1. DCFusor

        Vaccines are not money makers, historically. Try again.

        1. Cynic_999

          Other diseases have not been the subject of worldwide panic, lockdown and the cause of economic collapse. So while vaccines may not *generally* be big money-makers, THIS one certainly will be.

          1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

            You're making a HUGE assumption here. When the mob gets big enough, there is no private property. Even in the US.

            Did you know that "personal need" is a defense against the crime of theft? Apply that to a vaccine during a pandemic, and you've got really strong ground. Of course, that's stupid, because you've just defunded the research for the next bat virus Pooh Bear's minions decide to grace us with.

            But we're talking politics here.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          This one would be. Although it will be low cost and any profits reinvested in vaccine research, the winners get to cover their development costs.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Exactly. Who cares if it saves lives? The world is a mess, they should all be sharing their research freely and once they have a vaccine it should be free. However some people want money and lots of it, the more the better. What they don't realise is that one day that will bite them in the arse.

      1. ibmalone

        What exactly do you mean by free though? Who is paying the researchers working on it? Who is paying for equipment, premises for trials? Who is paying for production, distribution, and administration of the vaccine? Because someone has to provide all of those.

        Provided at cost, paid for by governments seems the most likely model, and a lot of the companies involved have said they're going to be providing it pretty much at cost. There's not much win for them in gouging prices over this, given the scale of the vaccine effort just at cost will be a massive turnover boost to them. There's also an argument that institutional investors owning pharma companies will overall benefit from a vaccine even if it doesn't directly boost their pharma holdings because of the economic benefit.

        I don't see Russia really benefits from this kind of activity, they've got their own vaccine efforts, which use different technologies. If you really did want to steal information, why not wait till a working vaccine had been demonstrated? Even if the details of the final vaccine were secret (which they wont be), they'd have to shoulder production (including the technology development) and distribution costs themselves.

        And there is a risk, if their hacking was to cause data loss or even just disruption to institutions that discover the intrusion and have to down tools to re-secure their networks. It almost seems that this is a somewhat thoughtless effort, as in they have a remit to carry out industrial espionage and that this is an industrial target and therefore we're going to steal it.

        1. MonsieurTM

          Given that comparative death rates that the UK has vs Eastern Europe (Ukraine, Belarussia, etc) bluntly I think the way we go about it is most unsuccessful. Why the heck would Russia want to follow our death rate?

          1. ibmalone

            The article is about industrial espionage in vaccine research, what did you think it was about? Are you saying Russia will not need a vaccine?

          2. First Light

            If you believe their count is accurate, that is. I suspect many countries around the world have less-than-accurate counts.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      US Patent Rules is one reason why

      They operate on 'First to File'.

      Whoever gets a viable vaccine even if they give it away will soon be hit by patent lawsuits due to the US laws unless they patent the hell out of it first which sort of defeats the purpose of giving it away.

      Then there is the Political points scoring that the likes of Putin can make over everyone else. He, like allmost all Russian Tszar's before him, only really care about what people inside the NewUSSR thinks. He wants to change the constitution so that he ban be president for life. Crowing about how his wonderful scientists created a vaccine would really go down well with his electorate (before they become redundant that is).

      Posting AC as I have family there who are opposed to Putin and I don't want to have his thugs come calling on them in the middle of the night. Unless, elReg has been hacked by the FSB already?

      1. Tail Up

        Re: US... ...why

        Such taxation, so wow, and - zilch vaccine. Zero. Nihil. Нету. None. Maybe the one from the anonymous US lab that kil3d the four poor Ukrainian militaty testers, come test the band.

        Of course the Russkies stole the show of effectiveness of the taxations. Do you think different? What you're gonna do when they come 4 you? Ah. Rhetorical. They will not. One seems to have just shown ones patriotic Drive C: for the examination by the forces one is afraid to name...

        Poor America. Where are the times where Russians were beckoned by the ripe aroma of your fruit of true spirit of freedom? Are they gone forever?

        Looking at some of the comments, it comes to mind: they are.

        Luckily, there are few of them.

        Putin? What Putin?

        Signed: 55 73

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: US... ...why

          I can only assume that English isn't your first language. I'm really struggling to work out what you are saying and if there any points in it.

          1. Tail Up

            Re: US... ...why

            Up

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If America develops a vaccine, they will use it for themselves first and sell any left over at a premium price. And certain countries will have to pay more than others.

    If Britain developes a vaccine, they will meekly hand it to the America for free, who will do as previously described.

    If anyone else develops a vaccine, America will outbid everyone else and buy up the entire stock and all future production for their own use.

    Whatever happens, countries like Russia aren't getting any vaccine unless they can steal it or develop it themselves.

    There is no altruism in global economics.

    1. TheInstigator

      The scary thing with the scenario you outlined is that it is entirely plausible and not outlandish.

      Sometimes I really think humans as a species - does not deserve to exist and the sooner we are all made extinct the better.

      Then I see a beautiful woman and I want to make babies.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. sanmigueelbeer

        The scary thing with the scenario you outlined is that it is entirely plausible and not outlandish

        It is not just "plausible" nor "outlandish". The United States has, in the last few months, done the following:

        1. Blocked the sale of 3M-branded facemasks overseas and all 3M facemasks made overseas can only be sold in the US.

        2. US demands French pharma Sanofi hand over COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing stocks to the US

        America's pride cannot afford for opposing countries like Russia, China, North Korea, Venezuela, etc to be able to come up with a cheap & affordable COVID-19 vaccine first.

        China's Wolf-Warrior Diplomacy vs this -- which is the "lesser of two evils"?

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