29 Jul Reality Espionage
A state actor is poking around in the digital information depths with an invisibility cloak and there is little indication, if any, that a digital alarm has been set or is going off. Russia didn’t get invited to the race-for-a-vaccine-party so they invited themselves dressed in fancy malware. An official advisory document from the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre details the targets, the cyber espionage username and the motive, mainly to gain “information and intellectual property relating to the development and testing of COVID-19 vaccines”.
ABC radio interviewed technology researcher, Dr Suelette Dreyfus from Melbourne University and she believes that this grab for a vaccine from Russia is a consequence of international structures breaking down. In particular, sanctions against powerful countries and organisations and the US funding withdrawal from WHO could be catastrophic in relation to the WHO’s ability to synergise and progress international, coordinated efforts to create a vaccine and manage the pandemic.
Trump also mandated a halt for data and information flow from health institutions to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in America that may have spurred some of the need to steal information using hacking as a tool. Dr Dreyfus talks about this time as we grapple with multiple viruses that infect humans and computer intelligence systems. Cozy Bear, a hacking group with links to Russia, are responsible for this latest threat and the COVID-19 vaccine is not the only target. Cozy Bear have also intercepted think tanks, government organisations and energy targets.
Cyber disruption is a real distraction that gets in the way of normal processing and research and is costly as security defences need to be reinforced. Although, Cozy Bear has reportedly eavesdropped more than they have interfered because what the hackers want is a continuous stream of data.
The Australian Government hasn’t admitted, at this stage, to being targeted for our Covid-19 vaccine research however, our cyber security defence system, despite the recent injection of funding, is in no way prepared for continued, deliberate and subversive cyber attacks.
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