Posted on May 14, 2020 at 11:08 AM
The race to become the first health organization or country to discover a vaccine or direct medication for COVID-19 is on. Different courtiers have funded their research unit to get a solution not only for their health benefits but also for the economic benefit of having the sole control of the vaccine in the world. But it seems some are willing to go the extra mile to make sure they beat others to the race.
The Chinese government has been called out by the Trump administration over alleged attempts to steal information related to coronavirus research.
Yesterday, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the FBI revealed that state-backed Chinese hackers are trying to hack the servers of US researchers to steal information about vaccines for COVID-19. The state-sponsored hackers are also looking for information about the testing and treatment of the pandemic.
More details about hacking attempts will be released
According to the joint warning, the actors are trying to identify and steal public health data and valuable intellectual property (IP) relating to the testing, treatments, and vaccines for the COVID-19 pandemic. The agency also reiterated that in the coming days, they would release more technical details about the hacking attempts.
They also recommended some security measures the health researchers need to take to patch up any security flaws.
According to the recommendation, researchers should update their systems and setup multifactor authentication for accounts. Research organizations at risk of attack should be aware that the more attention they give to the press will mean more chance of the hackers locating and attacking them.
So, whatever research processes they are taking should be kept under the radar to prevent inviting cybercriminals to the party.
As at press time, the Chinese embassy has not responded to requests for comments on the accusation.
The Chinese embassy has not responded to allegations
There has been an increased case of cyberattacks as cybercriminals are taking advantage of the fear surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. The FBI reported that it received over 3,600 coronavirus-related complaints last month. The agency also revealed that Americans have lost more than $12 million over the scam surrounding the pandemic.
Other state-sponsored hackers also involved
Cybersecurity Company FireEye said other state-sponsored hackers are stealing information related to the prevention and cure of the disease from other countries. The security firm reiterated that state-backed actors from Vietnam have targeted the Chinese government to gain information regarding the handling of the disease.
In another report by Reuters, Japanese sponsored hackers have targeted Gilead Sciences, the developer of the COVID-19 drug remdesivir.
Last month the World Health Organization reported that there has been an unprecedented increase in cyberattacks, especially against health organizations.
Last week, the UK’s National Cyber Security Center and the US Department of Homeland Security jointly stated that healthcare organizations are serious targets for state-sponsored organizations. The hackers are targeting pharmaceutical companies and researchers involved in the search for coronavirus vaccines.
The US Department of Justice revealed recently that China is involved in over 90% of economic espionage cases. Similarly, Google revealed that it has discovered over a dozen state-sponsored hacking syndicates who are trying to steal information from coronavirus researchers.
COVID-19 vaccine is the key to economic recovery
Researchers have been repeatedly emphasizing that the key to economic recovery if the discovery of a vaccine for COVID-19. Models have predicted there maybe hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 deaths if the vaccine is not found anytime soon.
But they also said one great threat these researches are facing is the constant target of Chinese-backed hackers on these research institutions.
“China’s efforts to target these sectors pose a significant threat to our nation’s response to COVID-19,” the FBI and CISA revealed yesterday.
The agencies believe the revelation will raise the level of awareness regarding their hacking activities. It will help the targeted organizations to beef up their security and use a more stringent access protocol to keep their data safe.