US authorities warned healthcare and scientific researchers that China-linked hackers were attempting to steal research related to treatments and vaccines for COVID-19.
“The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) are issuing this announcement to raise awareness of the threat to COVID-19-related research. The FBI is investigating the targeting and compromise of U.S. organizations conducting COVID-19-related research by PRC-affiliated cyber actors and non-traditional collectors.” reads the joint alert. “These actors have been observed attempting to identify and illicitly obtain valuable intellectual property (IP) and public health data related to vaccines, treatments, and testing from networks and personnel affiliated with COVID-19-related research.”
“The F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security are preparing to issue a warning that China’s most skilled hackers and spies are working to steal American research in the crash effort to develop vaccines and treatments for the coronavirus. The efforts are part of a surge in cybertheft and attacks by nations seeking advantage in the pandemic.” reported The New York Times.
“These actors have been observed attempting to identify and illicitly obtain valuable intellectual property and public health data related to vaccines, treatments, and testing from networks and personnel affiliated with COVID-19-related research,” reads a statement from the FBI and the CISA.
“China’s efforts to target these sectors pose a significant threat to our nations response to COVID-19”.
The US agencies recommend targeted organizations to adopt cybersecurity best practices to prevent state-sponsored hackers from stealing COVID-19-related material.
“What else is new with China? What else is new? Tell me. I’m not happy with China.” President Trump commented. “We’re watching it very closely,”.
“China’s long history of bad behavior in cyberspace is well documented, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone they are going after the critical organizations involved in the nation’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Christopher Krebs, the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. He added that the agency would “defend our interests aggressively.”
The Chinese Government rejected the allegation Beijing on Monday.
“We are leading the world in COVID-19 treatment and vaccine research. It is immoral to target China with rumors and slanders in the absence of any evidence,” Foreign Affairs ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said.
The Chinese government is not the only one interested in COVID-19 research, nation-state hackers from Russia, Iran, and North Korea are launching spear-phishing and misinformation campaigns in the attempt to target organizations and scientists involved in the vaccine research.
Last week the US and the UK issued a joint alert to warn of the rise in cyber attacks carried out by foreign states against healthcare organizations and researchers.
This is my interview on the topic at TRT World
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(SecurityAffairs – COVID-19, hacking)