Britain’s GCHQ has gone on the offensive against anti-vaccine propaganda. The Times says the SIGINT agency is using techniques proved against Islamic State online activity against state-sponsored purveyors of vaccine disinformation. It’s not a comprehensive rumor-control effort, but operates against state-directed disinformation only, not ordinary grassroots craziness.
The campaign against which GCHQ’s efforts are directed is Russian, Engineering and Technology reports. One of the disinformation campaign’s central claims seems unlikely to convince anyone: a COVID-19 vaccine developed in the UK by AstraZeneca and Oxford University is bound to turn anyone who gets it into an ape, on account of that vaccine used a chimpanzee virus somewhere in its development. According to Reuters GCHQ is “taking down hostile state-linked content and disrupting the communications of the cyberactors responsible.” The Week suggests the motive for the disinformation is at least partly commercial: Russia is pushing widespread adoption of two vaccines developed there.
The US FBI last week made public an alert issued on a restricted basis back in October to the effect that “unknown actors” had exploited insecurely configured instances of the SonarQube code review tool to steal source code from companies and Government agencies. ZDNet summarizes the research into and remediation of the issue.
Volexity researchers report that OceanLotus, the Vietnamese cyberespionage crew also known as APT32, is using an array of bogus Web sites and Facebook pages to attract victims. CyberScoop notes that OceanLotus has, since its discovery in 2017, been particularly active against foreign corporations doing business in Vietnam.