Putin "almost certainly" knew about Covid hacking, says the former head of the intelligence agency

Vladimir Putin must have known that his spies were trying to steal groundbreaking British research into a coronavirus vaccine, a former chair of the British Joint Intelligence Committee said today.

Lady Neville Jones told the BBC that she was "almost certain" that the Russian president would have known that his activists had launched cyber attacks on Oxford University and Imperial College London in order to get top secret data on the stab.

British scientists developing the vaccine have already said that there is an 80 percent chance that it will show "positive signs" of working that it will be ready by September.

Lady Jones & # 39; intervention took place after the British National Cyber ​​Security Center revealed that the Russians had attacked Britain during the ban and also tried to interfere in the 2019 general election.

In a dramatic joint statement with colleagues in the U.S. and Canada, the UK cyber security agency accused the Kremlin of using hackers to try to steal western research into the virus.

Destinations included Oxford University and Imperial College London, which are leading the world in vaccine development. Security sources said the sophisticated spy attacks were approved at the "highest levels" of the Russian regime and may have been ordered by Putin himself.

Lady Neville Jones told the BBC she was

Lady Neville Jones told the BBC that she was "almost certain" that the Russian president would have known that his activists had launched cyber attacks to steal the British Covid-19 vaccination plans

Paul Chichester, head of operations at the National Cyber ​​Security Center, urged organizations involved in coronavirus research to strengthen their defenses.

He added: “We condemn these despicable attacks against those who are doing important work to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

"Working with our allies, the NCSC is committed to protecting our most important assets. Our top priority right now is to protect the healthcare sector."

Oxford is the leader in vaccination and believes that it is 80% likely that it will be ready in September

Oxford is the leader in vaccination and believes that it is 80% likely that it will be ready in September


Oxford University

Clinical teams at the Jenner Institute at Oxford University and the Oxford Vaccine Group started developing the vaccine ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 under the name AZD1222 in January as a manufacturing partnership was concluded with the pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca.

Human trials started on April 23 and are now in their final stages.

Project manager Professor Sarah Gilbert told The Times that she was 80 percent convinced of his success.

Imperial College London

Professor Robin Shattock leads a team working at Imperial College to produce a vaccine.

Fifteen volunteers have already received the vaccines, and 200 to 300 new participants are expected to take the tests in the coming weeks.

A second process with 6,000 people will take place later.

However, Professor Shattock said the vaccine will not be available until at least 2021, even if everything goes according to plan.

If the push works, the team wants to make it as cheap as possible so that the entire UK population can be vaccinated for the "really good value" of just under £ 200m.


Massachusetts-based Moderna was the first U.S. company to begin human trials on March 16 with its potential Covid-19 vaccine, known as mRNA-1273.

According to a study published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine on July 14, the stab triggers an immune response in all 45 injected volunteers.

Moderna's shot showed promising results in his Phase 2 human tests last month. The company reported that it triggered antibody production similar to that seen in recovered coronavirus patients.


CanSino's Chinese Ad5-nCoV vaccine was the first vaccine to enter clinical trials earlier this year and is a leading candidate.

A study of 108 healthy volunteers in China showed that it certainly triggered an immune response in the participants.

Results published in The Lancet on May 22 showed that most of the people who received the vaccine had immune responses, although their antibody levels, which were thought to neutralize the virus, were relatively low. The researchers saw a stronger increase in other immune connections called T cells, which could also help fight the infection.


Pfizer and BioNTech have launched & # 39; BNT162 program & # 39; worked on a number of potential Covid-19 vaccines.

Positive preliminary results from the ongoing Phase I / II clinical trial called BNT162b1 were reported on July 1.

Data are available for the study with BNT162b1 on 24 volunteers. The results showed that it was well tolerated and produced dose-dependent immunity.

Dr. Kathrin Jansen, head of vaccine research and development at Pfizer, said the vaccine "is capable of eliciting neutralizing antibody responses in humans at or above levels seen in Covid-19 survivors."

Pfizer received the Fast Track Award from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for two of its four potential Covid-19 vaccines this month.

Johnson & Johnson

The drug giant started working on the vaccine in January, two months before Covid-19 was classified as a global pandemic.

A Johnson and Johnson-led vaccine study will begin recruiting in September. The clinical data will be available at the end of the year.

As early as 2021, an emergency batch of the vaccine is expected to be used, which is likely to be prioritized for vulnerable people.

Downing Street also condemned Russia's attempt to steal Western vaccine research.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: “The attacks against scientists and others who do important work to combat the corona virus are despicable.

"Working with our allies, we will call those who want to harm us in cyberspace and hold them accountable."

Security sources declined to say whether Britain used its offensive cyber capabilities against Russian hackers, but said intelligence agencies had "different ways" to respond.

According to sources, the Russian attacks began in February as global concern about the corona virus began to escalate.

They were carried out by the infamous Cozy Bear unit, which was named as the source of a series of offensive operations against the West.

The shadow cell, also known as APT29 and The Dukes, has not been publicly linked to Russian intelligence.

However, a joint assessment by the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada yesterday showed that it was "almost certainly part of the Russian secret services".

He added: “Throughout 2020, APT29 has targeted various organizations involved in the development of Covid-19 vaccines in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom, most likely with the intent to share information and intellectual property the development and testing of stealing Covid. 19 vaccines. & # 39;

The Allies warned that the enemy group "is likely to continue to target organizations involved in the research and development of Covid-19 vaccines to answer additional intelligence related issues related to the pandemic."

Research projects in Oxford and Imperial are among the most promising vaccination programs in the world. This week it turned out that a phase 1 trial in Oxford with 1,000 British volunteers seemed to be stimulating an immune response – possibly a major breakthrough.

Yesterday's joint report showed that the Cozy Bear cell had limited success and had only taken “first steps” in compromised systems.

This year, the NCSC has worked with British researchers and pharmaceutical companies to strengthen their defenses against attacks. Russia was the only enemy state named yesterday, but sources have previously indicated that both China and Iran have attempted to steal data.

The joint report found that Russian hackers used a number of techniques to try to infiltrate western research institutions.

This includes combating known vulnerabilities in common software, including "virtual private network" or VPN applications.

In a network, hackers try to determine the identity of legitimate users to ensure permanent access to the system.

In some cases, the group then provides a malware program codenamed "WellMess" to download files or plant viruses.

Another method used by Cozy Bear is the simple technique of phishing – sending emails that a recipient believes come from a trusted source.

Security sources said the hacks on vaccination programs were largely designed to steal information rather than disrupt systems.

The report warned that the Cozy Bear cell scanned "widespread" security holes to gain access to a "wide" range of Western facilities. In many cases, it is "unlikely that the knowledge gained will be immediately useful," the report says.

However, the group collected a store of "stolen credentials" to access their systems "if they become more relevant to their needs."

A leading Russian researcher said this week that Moscow plans to start final testing a potential vaccine next month. Russia has reported the fourth highest number of coronavirus cases after the United States, Brazil and India. It has recorded 11,614 deaths, a far lower number than in similarly affected countries, but has faced questions about the reliability of its data.

Russian hackers targeted the Ministry of Defense and the Porton Down Laboratory of the Ministry of Defense in 2018 after Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were murdered with Novichok in Salisbury.

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