(Reuters) – The University of Oxford said on Thursday it was investigating a digital intrusion after an investigator said it had seen evidence that a laboratory investigating COVID-19 had been hacked. The breach took place in mid-February and happened at the Division of Structural Biology, known as Strubi, which has been conducting an investigation into COVID-19, according to Alex Holden, founder of Wisconsin-based Hold Security. Forbes first reported the infringement. Strubi is distinct from the Jenner Institute, which develops the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine in partnership with AstraZeneca (NASDAQ :). The University of Oxford confirmed that there had been an attack and in an emailed statement said it was investigating. “We have identified and contained the problem and are now investigating further. There has been no impact on any clinical investigation as this is not being carried out in the affected area,” an Oxford spokesperson said, adding that the university was working with the National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) about the incident. He did not mention the affected facility. NCSC, the cybersecurity arm of spy agency GCHQ, said in a statement that it was aware of the incident and was “working to fully understand its impact.” Holden told Reuters he discovered the intrusion when he found screenshots from inside the lab’s network left by hackers on a poorly protected server. Holden said the hackers, whom his company has been tracking, were Portuguese speakers who operated outside of South America and were criminally motivated, citing references to ransomware and discussions of monetary payments. Digital espionage targeting healthcare agencies, vaccine scientists, and drug manufacturers has exploded during the COVID-19 pandemic. In December, US pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc (NYSE 🙂 and its German partner BioNTech SE (NASDAQ 🙂 revealed that documents related to the development of its COVID-19 vaccine had been “illegally accessed” in a cyberattack on the European drug regulator. .
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