US accuses China hiring hackers to steal COVID-19 vaccine research

The government of the United States accused China of stealing COVID-19 vaccine research from the and its allies.

The FBI, alongside the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), said China was funding hackers to steal anti-coronavirus vaccine study.

The news was issued as an unclassified public service announcement (PSA) on CISA’s website on Wednesday. 

“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 PSA said.

“The FBI is investigating the targeting and compromise of organizations conducting COVID-19-related research by PRCaffiliated cyber actors and non-traditional collectors,” it added.

The CISA and FBI also said these cyber actors had 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 potential theft of this information jeopardizes the delivery of secure, effective, and efficient treatment options.”

The security agencies urged all organizations researching COVID-19 vaccines to “maintain dedicated cybersecurity and insider threat practices to prevent surreptitious review or theft of COVID-19-related material.”

The FBI and CISA recommended the following measures to fight the hackers:

  • Assume that press attention affiliating your organization with COVID-19
    related research will lead to increased interest and cyber activity.
  • Patch all systems for critical vulnerabilities, prioritizing timely patching for
    known vulnerabilities of internet-connected servers and software
    processing internet data.
  • Actively scan web applications for unauthorized access, modification, or
    anomalous activities.
  • Improve credential requirements and require multi-factor authentication.
  • Identify and suspend access of users exhibiting unusual activity.

The FBI encouraged victims to report information concerning suspicious or criminal activity to their local field office (www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field). For additional assistance and best practices, such as cyber hygiene vulnerability scanning, please visit https://www.cisa.gov/coronavirus.

On May 1, President Donald Trump claimed he had seen evidence that would prove the theory that the pandemic virus was made at Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Trump stood firm on his claims despite the intelligence agencies’ conclusion that the SARS-CoV-2 was “not manmade or genetically modified.”

Trump also said Tuesday he may seek damages from China over the virus outbreak, which began in Wuhan City and has now infected more than 3 million people worldwide.