A report by The Telegraph reveals that an Oxford University biology laboratory researching COVID-19 has been hacked by a cyber gang in mid-February due to fears that the lab was attempting to sell information about the virus to the highest bidder.
The Strubi lab is unrelated to the Jenner Institute, which developed a COVID-19 vaccine with pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca.
The hack is currently investigated by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) as it attempts to “fully understand its impact.” As of now, security sources are unclear who was responsible for the attack and could not rule out the involvement of a hostile foreign state. The NCSC also noted that the cyber attack had “no impact on any clinical research.”
In a statement to The Telegraph, Oxford University confirmed that Strubi had been hacked.
This is not the first time that hackers have been accused of targeting COVID-19 research.
In November, Microsoft accused state actors from Russia and North Korea of targeting pharmaceutical companies and researchers working on vaccines and treatments for COVID-19.
In a blog post at the time, Microsoft accused attackers of targeting “leading pharmaceutical companies and vaccine researchers” in Canada, France, India, South Korea and the United States.