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 …

  1. 1752
    Mushroom

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

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      "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 Silver badge

          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 Bronze badge

              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 Bronze badge

          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 Silver badge

            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. Smooth Newt Silver badge
          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. Smooth Newt Silver badge
              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 Silver badge

          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 Silver badge

        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. 2+2=5 Silver badge
      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 Silver badge

        Vaccines are not money makers, historically. Try again.

        1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

          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. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

          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 Silver badge

        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 Silver badge

            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 Bronze badge

            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 Silver badge

        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"?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          re: 3M Facemasks

          Er.... but my Dentist was wearing one of those when I visited him yesterday. I could clearly see the '3M' brand. Your mind has to concentrate on anything it can when you are having a root filling done.

          1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

            Re: re: 3M Facemasks

            Not as silly as you might think

            https://www.reuters.com/article/us-healthcare-coronavirus-3m-idUSKBN21L1XJ

          2. batfink Silver badge

            Re: re: 3M Facemasks

            and did you ask when he bought the mask?

        2. TheInstigator

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

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            re. the sooner we are all made extinct the better

            I have a vague impression that, perhaps, a human trait of ALWAYS seeking short-term gains is, in fact nature's safety catch. At some point of our development (looks like soon), we'll make ourselves (and 99% of other species) extinct and this particular cycle is completed. Intelligence, perhaps, is just an aberration :)

        3. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

          And Germany prevented the export of vital supplies to Italy during the start of the outbreak.

          France seized (stole) PPE that was British property on its way from the factory in France.

          It's almost as if countries look after their own citizens.

      3. This post has been deleted by its author

      4. Teiwaz Silver badge

        I see

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

        I see a beautiful woman and I want to make pornart.

        Spend too much time in life drawing, it'll happen to you.

      5. Smooth Newt Silver badge
        Meh

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

        Humans as a species don't run countries. Political leaders do. The problem is that our political processes favour the rise of narcissist meglomaniac psychopaths.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          "narcissist meglomaniac psychopaths."

          You probably meant sociopaths, but I think psychopaths works too.

        2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

          IT aint Difficult ..... Change the Recorded Artist Delivers Other Songs and Bigger Pictures

          Humans as a species don't run countries. Political leaders do. The problem is that our political processes favour the rise of narcissist meglomaniac psychopaths. .... Smooth Newt

          Political leaders think they do, Smooth Newt. Media moguls and central bankers, to name but two major players/state and non-state actors responsible and accountable for the 0day hosting and continuity posting of chaos, madness and mayhem, mayknow different.

          And is not the abiding problem glaringly obvious ..... none run any countries well, with many being run extremely badly ........ therefore, basic radical logic dictates the answers to such problems lie in the gift of A.N.Others*?

          * .... :-) A.N.Others ..... Assorted super-talented weirdos and misfits, No 10? :-)

          cc ideasfornumber10@gmail.com

          1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

            And now you know they know ...... ?

            ---------- Forwarded message ----------

            From: DS Ideas <ideasfornumber10@gmail.com>

            Date: 19 Jul 2020, 08:50 +0100

            To: xxxxxxxxxx

            Subject: Automatic Reply: ideasfornumber10 Re: Sorted weirdos and misfits with odd skills

            Automatic Reply

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    2. RichardEM

      It counts on who is in office

      If Tsar Trump is still in office I expect that he will do exactly as you say.

      If Biden, from my mouth to Gods ear, gets in then I would expect that they will share the means of making what ever vaccines we have developed for very reasonable fees and perhaps even licensing the ability to make the vaccine at only the cost of development. That would be a great Propaganda coupe especially if China, Russia and Iran let their people know where the vaccine came from. Hopefully that would happen and all side would get on to a better path.

      That Biden would consider doing as I suggest is much more possible then the others letting people know if we did do that.

      1. Kabukiwookie Silver badge

        Re: It counts on who is in office

        Mate. Sleepy Joe doesn't know which state he's in half the time. Thinking he'd be playing some sort of 4D chess in the global politics is just Hiilaryous.

  6. Foxglove

    Why?

    Are they trying to disrupt research or steal it?

    Seems an obvious question to ask.

    Both disruption and stealing is of course an option because if you can nab the research and build on it whilst hindering those you've nicked it from there is money to be made in being first to market with the vaccine.

    A bit of detail on this area would be nice (well not really nice) to know.

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: Why?

      "there is money to be made in being first to market with the vaccine."

      To a point. No country is likely to let stand some tiny Russian company that suddenly patents a Covid vaccine a few days before a well-known research team patents the same one.

      1. Foxglove

        Re: Why?

        'To a point. No country is likely to let stand some tiny Russian company that suddenly patents a Covid vaccine a few days before a well-known research team patents the same one.'

        Fair point DavCrav.

        1. 2+2=5 Silver badge

          Re: Why?

          TBH no country is going to let a patent stand in the way of them copying any successful vaccine

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @2+2=5 - Re: Why?

            UK ?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why?

        AIUI the main Russian vaccine group has already said that if they succeed the recipe will be made available to the world FoC. Why wouldn't they? If they tried to sell it the US would sanction it, they cannot do so if it is FOSVV and Russia gains huge brownie points.

    2. TheInstigator

      Re: Why?

      I'm pretty sure a variation of this has occurred with the F35

      1. BebopWeBop Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Why?

        I always thought that 'leaking' F35 plans, especially for the support infrastructure, was a cunning plot to cripple other countries defences.

    3. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: Why?

      There's more going on here than we can see, "stealing" the vaccine would not be a huge benefit because once it appears it will be public very quickly. So maybe this is being done to have some other effect?

      Yes, it looks like it's Russia but it's hacking so it could be someone making it look like Russia.

      Who benefits if Russia is accused? Probably not Trump so maybe the US political system will flip over again but could Russia be trying to make Bidden look attractive to boost the Trump voters again?

      Fact is it's too early to know and jumping to conclusions when we don't know all the facts is stupid.

  7. C. P. Cosgrove
    Pint

    Two points can be made here.

    First, Governments have always spied on each other for both political and economic reasons. The only thing that has changed is the methodology, there is nothing new here.

    Second, granted that in the present econoomic set-up whoever produces a working vaccine first is going to make a substantial amount of money but it can be argued on humanitarian grounds that this research should be open sourced. That would, of course, obviate the need for spying.

    A beer because it is again possibble to go for one.

    Chris Cosgrove

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge
      Pint

      Our fridge has always been well stocked.

  8. ITS Retired

    In a better world, the various countries would be working together to find something to eradicate this virus. After all, it IS affecting the whole planet.

    But money drives way to much "progress". If you can't make a 300% to 1000% profit, it too often doesn't happen.

  9. Danny 2 Silver badge

    I 4 1

    Я, например, приветствую наших новых повелителей

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

      Re: I 4 1

      Баггер, что за игра солдат.

      1. Tail Up

        Re: I 4 1

        да тут чисто веселуха прёт, бро, it's alright

        1. Danny 2 Silver badge

          Re: I 4 1

          Google Translate is great, no more misunderstandings.

          Damn shame those Ruskies hacked our Intelligence & Security Committee for a year to bury their report.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You for example welcome our new overlords? Google doesn't always translate properly.

    As I understand what is really behind this, some naughty person leaked some embarrassing information about the government's plans to cave in to the US on the NHS and food, but leaked it obscurely on Reddit.

    Some nasty Russians found the leaked information and made sure it got out more publicly. A bit like investigative journalists used to do back when Presidents had to resign over Watergates rather than pardon people and lie about things on Twitter.

    Dom thought they weren't supposed to do that and threw a fit. He forgot that while he and Johnson had been acquired by one group of Russians, there were others that didn't agree with the first lot.

  11. IGotOut Silver badge

    In summary

    Every govermeny is hacking and spying on every other goverment.

    If it wasn't for goverments and religion (the original oppresive form of goverment) most of of the population of the world would actually get on with each other.

    1. BrownishMonstr Bronze badge

      Re: In summary

      Did racism and football-hooliganism come out of religion or Government? (Sure there's a possibility but I imagine it's low).

      There's caste-ism in India, which I doubt came neither from religion nor Government, though the latter may exacerbate the situation.

      Humans can only have a limited amount of people in their bubblesphere, people they care about. It's human nature to split ourselves into groups and distrust anyone else. There will always be bad actors who will want to deepen the divide for their own gain, whether or not they are members of the Government.

      tl;dr:

      Humans are shitty animals.

      1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: In summary

        Both racism and the caste system came from or were exacerbated by governments (or at least the country's rulers).

        1. First Light Bronze badge

          Re: In summary

          No, caste came from religion.

          1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

            Re: In summary

            The caste system may have originated for religious reasons, but had almost died out when it was restored (in a modified format) by kings and politicians (including the British Raj) who saw it as a means of control. It is effectively a different form of the British class system, but with stricter and more formalised rules.

            The system is thought to have been fuelled by the Hindu belief in reincarnation. This gave incentive for members of the lower castes to work hard and to please the higher castes in their present life time so as to be reincarnated as a member of a higher caste. But as said, it later just became a tool of the ruling class.

      2. Sanguma Bronze badge

        Re: In summary

        Humans can only have a limited amount of people in their bubblesphere

        We're a @#%$^&%^* ape species, for pity's sakes! We need to go around in groups - it's not like it's something new! And we naturally choose our own group to bond to, or to continue to bond to - though as a fission-fusion species, we can bond more easily than many another social species can.

        The problem is when power is concerned (wealth is just power condensed), and when various members of a group with power aims to keep that power for as long as possible - though the instant you make it obvious that you intend to retain your power for as long as you can, you recruit your opposition. (I keep expecting to hear that Xi Jinping has been deposed or in some other way terminated with extreme prejudice because he has made himself PRC leader for life, and that usually gets the destructive juices flowing in such scenarios, unless the opposition are very thoroughly cowed, and when they are, they are next to useless anyway.)

        I expect anyone could've stolen the info and anyone could've set up the logs to point to the FSB - even dissident FSB agents. Humans are a social, aka political species, after all, and the near in blood the nearer bloody as someone might have remarked a few years ago ...

  12. Kev99

    Once more the idiots in charge want to use that oh so secure for proprietary data storage. Haven't they learned yet that a net is just a bunch of holes held together by string?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Mandy Rice-Davies Proactive Defence

    It's all a smokescreen manufactured to divert attention from next week's release of the Russia Report which will reveal the Incestuous Tory-Russia relationship.

    It could have all been avoided and swept under the carpet for the rest of the Summer if only Boris's Placeman Failing Grayling hadn't lived up to his name yet again.

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

      Re: The Mandy Rice-Davies Proactive Defence

      The report will be interesting. I suspect that it will amount a a very large number of painful cuts to the credibility of the Conservative party/UK Politics rather than one hard blow.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Mandy Rice-Davies Proactive Defence

      For those not in the UK who may be unaware, the last sentence is about the UK Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC). This is an official Parliamentary body which oversees the work of the UK intelligence services. It's made up of MPs from different parties, (currently 5 Conservative, 3 Labour* and 1 SNP). (* 1 Labour member is from the House of Lords, not an MP.)

      It hadn't met for several months, as the current Conservative Government had been too busy to draw up a list of candidates. It was finally set up the day before yesterday, and loyal Borisite Chris Grayling was expected to be elected chairman. He wasn't. Conservative MP Julian Lewis was elected instead. He was promptly kicked out of the parliamentary Conservative party for disloyalty to the Great Leader.

      Yesterday we had not one but two stories released by the Government about Russian hacking. The Government has denied the timing was related to their embarrassment in the ISC.

      The ISC is working on a report about Russian involvement in the last few General Elections (all won by the Conservatives). The Government has denied that the delays in setting up the ISC for this Parliament is related to the embarrassment that this report will cause. It's now due out in the next week or so.

      40 years ago popular comedy "Yes, Minister" included the line "Never believe anything until it's been officially denied."

      TLDR; this story is as much about UK Politics as it is about state-sponsored hacking.

      1. BebopWeBop Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: The Mandy Rice-Davies Proactive Defence

        One amendment - 'several months' = 9 months! And conveniently done just before the last general election. A more cynical regtard than me might be excused for thinking that the governing party had something to hide.

      2. To Mars in Man Bras!
        WTF?

        Re: The Mandy Rice-Davies Proactive Defence

        >>The ISC is working on a report about Russian involvement in the last few General Elections (all won by the Conservatives).

        I don't understand. If the implication is that Russia interfered in order to secure successive Tory victories; why would it be in Russia's interests to have a rightwing anti-Russian government in UK when, in the shape of Jeremy Corbyn, they could have had a relatively Russia-friendly leftwing socialist one instead?

        [Same applies to the supposed Russian involvement in getting Trump elected. Sure, it could be argued that Russia wants US & UK to elect lunatic right-wing incompetents to office, to destroy their countries from within. But, while in office, those rightwing governments can still inflict a lot of economic damage on Russia. It doesn't really seem like much of a winning strategy].

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The Mandy Rice-Davies Proactive Defence

          One flaw in your argument is the assumption that a leftwing socialist such as Corbyn would automatically have been friendly to Russia. Russia's communist regime stopped nearly 30 years ago, and it's more of a populist regime under Putin now.

          Another flaw is the assumption that the successive Tory governments are anti-Russian, or rather that their policies are consistently made to penalise Russian interests or diminish Russia as an international power. The alternative hypothesis is that Putin would like to destabilise the EU, and by having one of the EU's more powerful members being significantly out of step with the others (who mostly are classified as leftwing socialist-leaning), it weakens the EU. This is behind the hypothesis that one of the things that Putin "interfered in" was the Brexit referendum. If Britain leaves the EU, it becomes weaker, and Britain becomes temporarily weaker while it readjusts to life outside the EU.

          A previous commenter made the observation that Putin doesn't feel like he has to win, as long as his opponents lose. If the UK (or the US) become worse off, that's a good enough result.

          So basically, it's all politics.

          1. To Mars in Man Bras!
            Alert

            Re: The Mandy Rice-Davies Proactive Defence

            >>One flaw in your argument is the assumption that a leftwing socialist such as Corbyn would automatically have been friendly to Russia

            Not so much "friendly" to Russia as "less hostile" and less beholden to the US.

            >>The alternative hypothesis is that Putin would like to destabilise the EU, and by having one of the EU's more powerful members being significantly out of step with the others

            That depends on your definition of "weaken". It could be argued that, minus the eternal division and wrangling of the UK, the EU will actually be stronger and more united.

            >>[EU countries] ...who mostly are classified as leftwing socialist-leaning)...

            That may be true for the 'old school' western European EU countries. Quite a few of the former eastern bloc ones [Poland, Czech & Hungary spring to mind] are decidedly not left leaning these days and seem to be trying to outdo the UK in their froth-lipped condemnation of everything Russian and willingness to bend over for the US.

        2. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

          Re: The Mandy Rice-Davies Proactive Defence

          I have just come across the concept of the Overton Window*, which describes the range of policies people will accept as reasonable. More importantly, it describes how this can be manipulated by putting forward unacceptable ideas and then dialling back to something that would have been unacceptable if put forward initially, but which now seems reasonable in comparison (like negotiating a price, I suppose). I can't help thinking that, if the Russians are manipulating elections to get unacceptable results, they would than have a plan to offer "reasonable" results later. Just because the West had forgotten how to play long games, don't think others have (see also China).

          *https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/26/us/politics/overton-window-democrats.html, amongst many sources.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The Mandy Rice-Davies Proactive Defence

          Not the Russian government.

          Now, I am not saying this is what happened, but if I was writing a fictional spy story this would be the scenario.

          Eccentric British person goes out to Russia ostensibly to help start an airline, but actually works for SIS.

          While there he makes contact with some oligarchs who are anti-Putin.

          The airline never takes off, but after his return a number of rich Russians move to London. They all have fallen out with Putin.

          These Russians are fast tracked British citizenship.

          Soon after, they make big donations to the Conservative Party, including £130000 for a tennis game with A B de P Johnson.

          The eccentric British person is installed in Downing Street as a special adviser who seems to have the power to fire civil servants - and even control Ministers.

          During this period, large numbers of rich Russians send their children to the Public Schools favoured by the Conservatives for theirs.

          Obviously Conservatives could never in reality put their own interests above that of the country or indeed favour one group in another, and this scenario is even less likely than Le Carré's The Russia House. But it might make a good story.

    3. Killing Time

      Re: The Mandy Rice-Davies Proactive Defence

      'It's all a smokescreen manufactured to divert attention from next week's release of the Russia Report' and a remarkably effective one at that given the number of comments on the so called joint statement.

      Probably due to the gravity lent to the statement by the inclusion of the US and Canadian intelligence services. With that in mind, I have looked but I have struggled to find reporting of statements from any politicians (of an equivalence in position to Dominic Raab) from the US or Canada in the international press coverage. If it is out there, I stand to be corrected. There is some confirmation reported from US intelligence officials but that is hardly what one would consider a 'joint statement'.

      The cynic in me is beginning to think the desperation to control the narrative around the the up coming Russia Report has shown our esteemed government ready to drag our allies into their sordid little cover up.

  14. Potemkine! Silver badge

    We condemn these despicable attacks against those doing vital work to combat the coronavirus pandemic

    How trying to get data to save its own population is a despicable attack against those doing vital work to combat the coronavirus pandemic??

    On the contrary, it seems to me not making these data public is an attack against the sick and suffering ones.

    1. Peter2 Silver badge

      Doing the research costs money and the usual way of proceeding is that somebody produces something useful with the research and then licenses it to recoup the research costs. How do the costs get recouped if the research is stolen, and then sold on by the thieves?

    2. ibmalone Silver badge

      Why do you think the data is not being made public?

      Do you think the Russians aim to make it public?

      Do you realise that there is a chance this activity might cause loss of the data they are after or interruption to the research work?

  15. TheInstigator

    Difference in response

    I can't help but think the response to these hacking attempts would be very different if the culprit was China or Iran etc ...

    Given the ability for intelligence agencies to construct a narrative, I wonder why they don't just blame an Axis of Evil (TM) - consisting of the triumvirate of Russia, China and Iran. Historically we all know humans do their finest work when they have a well defined scapegoat.

    1. Kabukiwookie Silver badge

      Re: Difference in response

      the triumvirate of Russia, China and Iran. Historically we all know humans do their finest work when they have a well defined scapegoat.

      They could call it 'Eurasia'. Fits geographically and flows off the tongue.

      1. TimMaher Bronze badge

        Re: Difference in response

        “Flows off the tongue”... like spit?

        Upvote for that one.

      2. Tail Up

        Re: Difference in response

        Something big is out of the woods in Iran, looks like.

    2. Fred Dibnah Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Difference in response

      Don’t forget to add Cuba & Venezuela. When you look on a globe it’s blatantly obvious that those countries have manoeuvred themselves into place in order to surround the USA and attack it. They are using plate tectonics to sneak closer.

      1. TheInstigator

        Re: Difference in response

        Those dastardly fiends!

      2. TimMaher Bronze badge

        Re: Difference in response

        ... and North Korea?

  16. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    If it's come from government it's a lie

    Or at least hand-waving to draw attention away from what our government is doing.

  17. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    'Tis a broad brush, but undeniable when truthful

    If it's come from government it's a lie

    Or at least hand-waving to draw attention away from what our government is doing. .... Will Godfrey

    And whenever they are really bad at it, and it takes but just a very few to realise what they are trying desperately to conceal and protect with their fantastic tales and fake news to raise merry hell, is it highly problematical and self-destructively defeating, for their systems admins and cheering partners be guilty of collusion in support of an alternate virtual reality and invariably criminal joint enterprise operation, which they continually need to feed puppet mastering media machines with further crooked seeds ...... until it inevitably suddenly explodes and implodes.

    And the fact that such is not simply understood by those groups which swarm around and form themselves in the guise of government, is proof positive of a catastrophic lack of necessary future intelligence ....... and in all departments and services which are servering them information.

    J'accuse.

    1. Cliff Thorburn

      Re: 'Tis a broad brush, but undeniable when truthful

      Do you think Cummings may be turning his attention on the MOD’s leaky co intel pro MK Ultra authorised secret pirate ship playground budget?

      Or is such stinking shenanigans permitted in the great skunkworks game?

      FSB or Facebook? ... who pulls the tentacles in the tantalising next round of presidential precedental polls?, with plentiful pandemic pantomime this Christmas?, all here and now on the wild and wacky completely staged world illusion illustrated by illumunating incumbents is it not? ...

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: 'Tis a broad brush, but undeniable when truthful

        Anything and everything is permitted, CT. Just don't get caught doing something you shouldn't have done by someone or anything doing it better, for it may then be used against you and render you seriously disadvantaged.

        1. Cliff Thorburn

          Re: 'Tis a broad brush, but undeniable when truthful

          Three things that cannot be hidden amFM, the Sun, the Moon, and the truth.

          It will be all resolved and revealed one day, whether with me or without me.

  18. John Savard Silver badge

    It Could be Much Worse

    When I first saw this news story, I breathed a sigh of relief. It's unfortunate that Russia is stealing other countries' intellectual property in this manner, and it's unclear why they're doing it, since despite the bad relations Russia has earned with the West, it's not as if the West would try charging them extortionate prices for a COVID-19 vaccine.

    What would have had me very upset would have been if they were sabotaging the development of a COVID-19 vaccine in other countries. That would be a rea. disaster.

  19. batfink Silver badge

    What? Surely not....

    Am i to understand that spy agencies are spying?

    Surely not.

  20. jason_derp Bronze badge
    Headmaster

    Interesting

    "It is completely unacceptable that the Russian Intelligence Services are targeting those working to combat the coronavirus pandemic."

    People in glass ships...

  21. poohbear

    Pot kettle black and all that.

    https://www.theregister.com/2020/07/16/cia_secret_cyberwar/

  22. FuzzyTheBear

    When only money is the matter at hand

    See there's this illness that spreads through the world .. and companies are seeking to make a buck with it.

    That part is a huge moral dilemna. Should the vaccine be " open source " ? In times like these is it moral to keep the information a company secret ?

    Imho , all research data , results and the vaccine itself should be opened to all. If you have to buy from a single or multiple sources at extortionate prices it's holding the world to ransom. This is not moral. This is highly immoral .. when are we to see a virus released by a vaccine company so their vaccine hits the market and they make a buck making us sick in the first place ? .. See where i'm going ? .. If the COVID-19 vaccine data is released , formulas shared with the world for all to use that's ok .. but for a company to keep everything secret is just exploiting humanity , the dead , the sick and the global economy to their advantage and that is immoral. Release the data .. dont keep it so secret .. open source the vaccine and it will go faster , will benefit humanity instead of just the shareholders and show the world they care about the people instead of just their investors. Wanna make a killing on the market ? Share it .. it will be the greatest publicity stunt ever and the company actually having the balls to do it will instantly gain world recognition as a good company and their products will fly off the shelf.

    1. ibmalone Silver badge

      Re: When only money is the matter at hand

      Which company is keeping their vaccine development secret? Are you aware one of the leading contenders is an academic-industry partnership? Who is going to be doing the research and manufacturing? Will you be paying them? Do you really think 'open sourcing' 'the' vaccine will speed things up (n.b. on 'the', we have candidate vaccines, we don't know if any of them work, so lots of people are investing in developing and testing possibilities)? It's not code you compile on a computer, it's processes, cell lines, manufacturing (GMP is an entire issue), you are not going to be making this in your garage.

    2. genghis_uk Bronze badge
      Pint

      Re: When only money is the matter at hand

      Well said Mr TheBear and it saved me a whole lot of typing!

      Have a Friday one -->

  23. David Gosnell

    Perhaps...

    .... we should start treating this global crisis as, well, you know, a global crisis, with a global solution?

    As others have commented elsewhere, we (well everyone apart from Boris and his crazy gang) don't give a flying one about having "world-beating" anything, just an end to this damned thing whatever it takes.

  24. John Robson Silver badge

    "Protecting global health

    "the UK and its allies are getting on with the hard work of finding a vaccine and protecting global health"

    So does that mean that the government is completely funding the research and will be freely sharing the data on request?

  25. Uncle Ron

    Is it Time?

    I'd really like an opinion on whether it's time to cordon off these evil state actors like China and Russia from the world wide internet. Russia has taken steps to cut it's own people off, and China has been filtering the web from it's people for years. I feel China and Russia (and Iran, and well known scammer domains) need to be cut off. Huh?

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Is it Time?

      If you'd like an opinion, here's mine: No.

      Cutting countries off the internet is bad because it's hard, it gives them extra power, and it harms us. I'll take each point in turn, but these are short summaries. Also, I've used China as an example below for two reasons. First, it's annoying to write and to read "Russia, China, Iran, and countries like them" all the time. Second, the problems I detail get infinitely worse the larger the country and the more activity links them and us, and on that basis China is the most dangerous.

      It's hard: In order to disconnect China from the internet, we have to disconnect their lines and/or drop all traffic coming out of them. If we try to cut the lines, we will need to reconnect other places which currently use China's lines for transoceanic communication. Mongolia is going to be the worst hit since they're entirely enclosed by China and Russia, but you have some other countries in southeast and central Asia whose lines are going to need to go through India, meaning getting Pakistan on board and going through war-torn areas. Then, you have to imagine that China will try to work against this, for example by using existing lines that go into Vietnam and masquerading as Vietnamese traffic. Do you really expect Vietnam's government to take drastic action to stop this with one of their closest allies and one with a massive army quite invested in it continuing to work? Of course, any espionage would be much more hidden than that, perhaps starting by going through Myanmar but quickly bouncing to servers in the west operated by agents in some other country.

      It helps the countries we are trying to hurt: China spends a lot of money protecting itself from terribly dangerous network traffic containing things favorable to democracy. By cutting off that traffic, they don't have to bother anymore. The important government services will still run on local systems through local comms, so the citizens shouldn't be that affected. And when they are anyway, there is a perfect target: the west. "The west has cut off your internet. They do not like us Chinese. They are the enemy. We didn't do it; they did. Why would you support them?"

      It hurts us: Currently, we rely on China for various things. It might be better if we didn't, but we do. We buy from and sell to China, collaborate with Chinese research institutions, all that. If we cut off the communication between us, we have to stop most of that and don't expect what is left to continue for long after the governments start looking for revenge. This means that we cannot get things from there, make money there, or do anything to help the people living there get some rights.

      It hurts us even longer: That was what happens in the first month or two, but let me prognosticate a bit further. If we decided to cancel our business relationships in China, which we really might like to do, people interested in human rights might be pleased. People who used to make a lot of money in China, however, won't be so happy. It will be in their interests to bring back their profit stream, and they will try. The easy way to do that is to lobby for new politicians who will restore the ability to trade in China, in return for which the Chinese government will demand various assurances from said country. If Singapore, for example, reopens its internet to China and starts buying things from them, do we give up on this exercise, cut off Singapore too, or wait for the same to happen to us? None look viable to me.

  26. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Be sure to leave a lot of press reports on bleach and UV laid about the place.

    Seriously, I suspect if the result of this spying were put in front of researchers much of it would be what they already knew from their own work or what's published. Advance figures from clinical trials might well excite managers. But what would be missing from information acquired by this means would be viable samples of the actual genetically engineered adenovirus or whatever is being used to manufacture antigens.

  27. Roger Kynaston Bronze badge

    Oh thoe russions

    Ra Ra Vladsputin,

    Ra Ra Vladsputin

    Russias greatest hack machine!

  28. JDX Gold badge

    Why aren't we making all research open-source in the first place?

    As title

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: Why aren't we making all research open-source in the first place?

      "Why aren't we making all research open-source in the first place? "

      It more or less is, but the hacking is for in-progress stuff. There's also still a desire for stealing things even if they will become public domain.

      Here's one example: suppose you hacked the Synairgen and University of Southampton servers, and you had a week's extra notice that the interferon beta drug would be successful. You could make a lot of money on the stockmarket.

  29. T. F. M. Reader

    The malware supports HTTP, TLS and DNS communications methods,” said NCSC

    Is this a "new normal" way to say the malware sends stuff over HTTPS after a bit of name resolution? Sorry, but am I the only one who thinks the sentence just reads weirdly?

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Wording

      It means the same thing - it's to give you a specific list of services to monitor for activity. Admittedly, DNS, HTTP and TLS are quite heavily used in normal business but the point is: you don't have to go looking for weird ports or obscure protocols.

      C.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Russians?

    Really?

    More likely some paid hacktivists working for the Military-Industrial complex / demonrats spoofing to blame Russia in the hope of revitalising the 'Russian election interference' narrative, as it's election year in the USA after all...

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: The Russians?

      Just four beats to the bar, OK?

    2. Nifty Bronze badge

      Re: The Russians?

      Well, conspiracy theory is an onion.

  31. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

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