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July 17, 2020, 05.20 PM

However, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said, “It is completely unacceptable that the Russian Intelligence Services are targeting those working to combat the coronavirus pandemic.”

He accused Moscow of pursuing “selfish interests with reckless behavior.”

Read also: Don't Expect a Covid-19 Vaccine Anytime Soon: Indonesia’s Erick Thohir

Sticking to more general language, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said, “We worked very closely with our allies to ensure that we would take measures to keep that information safe and we continue to do so."

The allegation that hackers linked to a foreign government are attempting to siphon secret research during the pandemic is not entirely new.

U.S. officials as recently as Thursday have accused China of similar conduct.

But the latest warning was startling for the detail it provided, attributing the targeting by name to a particular hacking group and specifying the software vulnerabilities the hackers have been exploiting.

Also, Russian cyberattacks strike a particular nerve in the U.S. given the Kremlin's sophisticated campaign to influence the 2016 presidential election.

And the coordination of the new warning across continents seemed designed to add heft and gravity to the announcement and to prompt the Western targets of the hackers to protect themselves.

“I think (the governments) have very specific intelligence that they can provide,” said John Hultquist, senior director of analysis at Mandiant Threat Intelligence.

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