May 13, 2020

Chinese hackers targeting US coronavirus research, FBI warns

Chinese hackers targeting US coronavirus research, FBI warns

The FBI and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency warned on Wednesday that Chinese hackers are targeting US research into vaccines and treatments for coronavirus and that any potential theft could jeopardize the roll-out of treatment options.

The FBI said it was investigating the targeting and compromise of the research by government-affiliated and other kinds of Chinese hackers.

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 the coronavirus related research, a joint public service announcement reads.

The potential theft of this information jeopardizes the delivery of secure, effective, and efficient treatment options.

The alert warns that organizations getting press attention for their research could face more attacks.

The FBI and CISA urge all organizations conducting research in these areas to maintain dedicated cybersecurity and insider threat practices to prevent surreptitious review or theft of coronavirus related material, the announcement said.

The warning does not include any potential steps the US government would take to respond to, retaliate against, or otherwise deter such attacks.

At a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing on the Cyberspace Solarium Commission today, commission co-chairman Senator Angus King said that the US needs to let them know there will be consequences.

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