Cybercriminals linked to China are attempting to illegally acquire information on vaccine development, testing and treatment of coronavirus-induced disease.
Hackers linked to China are hacking into the networks of American organizations engaged in COVID-19 research. This was reported on Wednesday by representatives of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
A joint statement from both agencies said the FBI is investigating attacks by cyber criminals linked to China against U.S. organizations to “detect and unlawfully obtain valuable intellectual property,” as well as information related to vaccine development, treatment and testing of COVID-19.
The report does not contain any further information on hackers or on organizations whose networks have been compromised.
The Chinese Embassy in Washington called the allegations “false,” “unproven,” and based on a “presumption of guilt. The Chinese diplomatic mission believes that the accusations are “detrimental to ongoing international cooperation in combating the pandemic.
Research and data related to the study of coronavirus has recently become a key priority for hackers. The Western intelligence community has already repeatedly reported on attacks against medical and pharmaceutical organizations.
In a separate statement issued earlier Wednesday, the head of the New Zealand intelligence agency condemned any attempt at cyber attacks on organizations involved in the study of COVID.
“We urge … to refrain from actions that could jeopardize the national or international response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Andrew Hampton, director general of the New Zealand Government Communications Secrecy Bureau.
Reuters reported last week that cyberspies linked to Iran have been involved in computer hacking by employees of Gilead Sciences, a U.S. pharmaceutical company that manufactures remedesivir, the only drug whose effectiveness has been proven to treat patients with COVID-19.