UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) discloses ransomware attack

Pierluigi Paganini January 30, 2021

A ransomware infected the systems at the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), at leat two services were impacted.

The UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) discloses a ransomware incident that impacted a number of UKRI-related web assets.

Two services were impacted, a portal for our UK Research Office (UKRO) based in Brussels and an extranet used by our Councils.

At the time of writing, it is not clear if threat actors exfiltrated data from the UK agency that reported the incident to the National Crime Agency, the National Cyber Security Centre and Information Commissioner’s Office.

Launched in April 2018, UKRI is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Our organisation brings together the seven disciplinary research councils, Research England, which is responsible for supporting research and knowledge exchange at higher education institutions in England, and the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.

The organizations it working to recover from the incident as well as conducting forensic investigation to determine the extent of the incident.

“We are treating an IT incident that has impacted a number of UKRI-related web assets as a cyber attack that has resulted in data being encrypted by a third party.” reads the statement published by UKRI. “The UKRO portal provides an information service to subscribers. The extranet is used to support the peer review process for various parts of UKRI.”

One of the impacted services is an extranet that UKRI councils use for their peer review activity, this means that grant applications and review information might have been compromised. The same service, for a limited number of UKRI review panel members, is used to support the processing of expense claims.

The second service, the UKRO subscription service one, has 13,000 users, but the agency pointed out that it does not contain sensitive personal data.

“We do not yet know whether any financial details have been taken, but we will endeavor to contact panel members to advise on personal protection against possible fraud in this situation” continues the statement.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, Intel)

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