(Recasts with Oxford statement, adds background)
Feb 25 (Reuters) - Oxford University said on Thursday it was
investigating a cyber attack but that research was unaffected,
following media reports that one of its biology laboratories
researching COVID-19 had been hacked.
The breach took place in mid-February and occurred at the
Division of Structural Biology, known as Strubi, which has been
carrying out research into COVID-19, according to Forbes and The
Strubi is distinct from the Jenner Institute, which develops
the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine in partnership with AstraZeneca
Oxford University confirmed there had been a hack in an
emailed statement to Reuters and said it was investigating.
"We have identified and contained the problem and are now
investigating further. There has been no impact on any clinical
research, as this is not conducted in the affected area," an
Oxford spokesman said, adding that the university was working
with the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) on the incident.
It did not name the facility affected.
The Telegraph newspaper quoted security sources as saying it
was unclear who was behind the attack and that they could not
rule out a hostile foreign state.
NCSC, the cyber security arm of spy agency GCHQ, did not
immediately respond to a request for comment.
Digital espionage targeting health bodies, vaccine
scientists and drugmakers has surged during the COVID-19
pandemic as state-backed hacking groups scramble to secure the
latest research and information about the outbreak.
In December, U.S. drugmaker Pfizer Inc and its
German partner BioNTech SE disclosed that documents
related to development of their COVID-19 vaccine had been
"unlawfully accessed" in a cyberattack on Europe's medicines
(Reporting by Bhargav Acharya and Derek Francis in Bengaluru;
Editing by Catherine Evans and Rosalba O'Brien)