Foreign spies targeting organisations fighting coronavirus pandemic for 'their own nefarious ends'

Foreign cyber spies are “exploiting the [coronavirus] situation to their own nefarious ends” by targeting organisations tackling the pandemic with online attacks, the Government has warned.

Speaking at the daily coronavirus briefing in 10 Downing Street today, Foreign Secretary Dominc Raab said there was “clear evidence” that organisations such as universities, healthcare bodies, research facilities, pharmaceutical companies, and local government had been hit by cyberattacks with aims ranging “from fraud on one hand to espionage”.

He said the attacks were “often linked to other state actors” and although he did not name the countries behind the attacks, he said the UK and USA had worked together to issue guidance and “deter the gangs and arms of state who lie behind them”.

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Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. Photo: PA

Mr Raab said the “vast majority” of nations have come together to defeat Covid-19 but some will always “seek to exploit a crisis for their own criminal and hostile ends”.

“We have clear evidence now that these criminal gangs are actively targeting national and international organisations which are responding to the Covid-19 pandemic which I have to say makes them particularly dangerous and venal at this time,” he said.

“Our teams have identified campaigns targeting healthcare bodies, pharmaceutical companies, research organisations and various different arms of local government.

“There are various objectives and motivations that lie behind these attacks from fraud on one hand to espionage but they tend to be designed to steal bulk personal data, intellectual property and wider information that supports those aims and they’re with other state actors.”


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