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Saturday, 18 July 2020 06:29

Sophisticated Russians trying to steal vaccines – and getting caught Featured

Sophisticated Russians trying to steal vaccines – and getting caught Image by Liz Masoner from Pixabay

Them pesky Russians are up to no good again, trying to hack their way in to steal research about COVID-19 vaccines. The attack appears to have been carried out by a fat man who couldn't be bothered to even hide his IP address, so sophisticated was his approach.

Using SSH to hop into the next point which the Russkies control? Too much trouble, comrade. The GRU really seems to be a third-rate outfit.

This, by the way is the story being spun by (why are we surprised?) the US, the UK and the usual lapdog, Australia. A breathless tale filed by Jacquelin Magnay for The Australian says the hackers were "almost certainly" operating on behalf of “the Russian intelligence services”. And beware, the UK has vowed to hit back.

I'm gobsmacked that that element of uncertainty is there. Usually, Britain's National Cyber Security Centre never has any doubts.

This is an elite organisation which just demonstrated that it has decided to jettison all logic when it agreed to a ban on Chinese 5G vendor Huawei Technologies. It was not so long ago that I expressed admiration for Ian Levy, the technical director of the NCSC, as a man who used logic to dictate his decisions.


Does this car belong to a Russian agent? No, it's my car sitting peacefully outside my house in Doncaster. Photo: Sam Varghese

For good measure, to position Australia as though it were on the very edge of peril as well, Magnay has this scary line: "It is unclear if the Australian vaccine trials have also been targeted, but Australia — as part of the Five Eyes security network — has access to the intelligence and will move to bolster security surrounding local companies." In other words, I can't tell you directly mate, wink, wink, but us good ole Aussies are also under attack by the Russian Fifth Column.

One wonders whether Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison received any instructions about spreading this bit of propaganda during his recent phone call with that worthy of worthies, the US President Donald Trump.

After all, many of Morrison's recent verbal sprays against China have come after similar discussions. As I pointed out in an op-ed on 15 May: "In reporting the fact that Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called for an inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus outbreak, few, if any, publications have pointed out that this clarion call was made four days after Morrison had a telephone conversation with US President Donald Trump."

Nobody will be able to accuse the Australian lapdog of not playing its designated role. Australia is delighted to take the fall for the US time and again, right from Vietnam onwards; the Americans talk a great game but are the worst kind of cowards when it comes to any direct confrontation and Australian troops have served as cannon fodder for them many a time. They were taking a knee for the US long before Colin Kaepernick even thought of it.


It's entirely possible that this is one of those sophisticated Russians. Image by Mihai Paraschiv from Pixabay.

The situation has become so risible that the Americans now resort to killing people by drones, which is what cowards do. Why do you need a massive military machine when you never kill anyone by confronting them? The only reason I can think of is American exceptionalism.

Expect more such "revelations" in the run-up to the American presidential elections (that is, if they are held at all given the way the coronavirus is spreading in the US). And expect more mentions of Cozy Bear, the Dukes, APT28, APT 29 and maybe even APT368 (which, curiously, is the number on the licence plate on my car!). Russkies gotta go and the Aussie larrikins are all set to push them into the Volga.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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