The Russian government has denied rumours that it was allegedly in collaboration with a group of hackers to steal data from western pharmaceutical and academic organisations.
In a televised interview with CNBC on Monday, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said that there were “no hackers working for the Russian government.”
“Our government does not consider any actions by hackers, nor does it coordinate them,” he said.
Siluanov underscored that no hackers were given any special task of accessing pharmaceutical companies as Russia had no interest in other nations’ coronavirus vaccine development.
He underscored that Russia was creating its own vaccine. Russian officials said the country even entered into an agreement with Britain to mass-produce a potential coronavirus vaccine which was being developed by AstraZeneca and the Oxford University.
“I do not really see any point for hackers to be involved in these activities,” Siluanov said.
Government departments such as the United States’ Department for Homeland Security, the Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency, the National Security Agency, as well as Canada’s Communications Security Establishment and the United Kingdom’s National Cyber Security Centre were accusing Russia of cracking through pharmaceutical data.
They said a group called APT29, also known as Cozy Bear, was likely to be blamed for the hacking, which made use of spear-phishing and custom malware to target vaccine researchers.
They said that the group “almost certainly” operated under the Russian intelligence services.
Russia’s relationship with western countries has long been dented, and increasingly so amid the global pandemic.
The latest accusations from the west came after allegations that Russia was spreading disinformation about the virus just as it was spreading throughout Europe in spring. Russia had repeatedly denied accusations, saying they were “unfounded.”
Diplomatic disputes aside, Russia, along with the international community, is underway reviving its economy that was hugely dampened by the global pandemic. As of this writing, the country has the fourth-highest positive cases with 770,000, after the US, Brazil and India, data from the John Hopkins University showed.
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