UK research and innovation frontier under ransomware attack

Home
| The European | 3 February 2021

Corporate espionage threatens innovation and can slow down COVID remediation

The UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has recently disclosed a ransomware attack that has disrupted its services and led to data theft. The institution is responsible for managing research grants and supporting innovative business initiatives in the UK, and therefore possesses financial, research and personal data.

With the world looking forward to the end of the pandemic as the vaccination speeds up, hackers are leveraging the technique known as corporate (also labeled as industrial) espionage to get their hands on valuable intelligence.

As data by Google Trends show, the popularity of the search term ‘vaccines’ doubled in January, reaching an all-time record. The majority of internet users are vulnerable to COVID-19 vaccine-related scams, promising the immediate remedy without waiting in queue set by their country’s officials. Enterprises face yet another risk.

Last week, US pharmaceutical producer Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech admitted that the information about their COVID-19 vaccines has been leaked online from the European Medicines Agency servers. Back in December, 2020, Interpol warned that vaccines will become a popular cyberattack vector in 2021.

“In the digital age, hackers perform corporate spying by applying other well-known, yet neglected, attack vectors. First they try to smuggle malware into the business systems via infected hardware or by performing phishing attacks. Later, malware gathers sensitive information and forwards it to the criminals,” explains Juta Gurinaviciute, the CTO at NordVPN Teams.

Usually the spyware is quiet, so the victim is unaware of its presence: the program secretly leaks everything it can find on the hard drive or the corporate servers. Ransomware, on the other hand, primarily encrypts the victim’s data and requires a payment to release it.

Hackers often aim at novel, undisclosed and highly secret data. The medical sector is one of the main targets with an average $7.13 million of damage per breach.

“The healthcare industry is in the spotlight today and it attracts criminals’ attention. However, medical contractors are also at risk. Their data can be compromised in supply chain attacks—or they could become a gateway for malicious actors to infiltrate medical research institutions,” warns NordVPN Teams expert.

To mitigate the risk, it is important to ensure safe remote connection to servers and implementing Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA). It limits employees access to corporate data, allowing them to use only the information needed to complete the task—and for a limited time only.

Further information

https://nordvpnteams.com/

Sign Up

For the latest news

Download the App free today

Follow
your favourite
business magazine
while on the go.
Available on

Hard Copy and Digital

Magazine
Subscription

Get your
favourite magazine
delivered directly
to you

£49.95 4 issues

ISF

Report

Read
Information Security Forum’s
special report
exclusively here

Read report

Other Home Articles You May Like

Website Design Canterbury

Magazine

Hard Copy and Digital Subscription

Please complete the payment process in order to receive all 4 issues of The European Magazine digital edition or receive the hard copy directly to your door
As soon as payment is processed, the current digital edition will be emailed to you or dispatch to your postal address.

Annual Quarterly Subscription (4 Issues) Shipping Options