COVID-19 Research Institutions Hacked In The US – FBI Alerts
On Thursday, a senior cybersecurity official of the Federal Bureau of Investigation warned that companies conducting COVID-19 research have been hacked by some foreign government hackers.
State-backed hackers have been poking around a series of research and healthcare institutions, said Tonya Ugoretz, the FBI Deputy Assistant Director in an online panel discussion hosted by the Aspen Institute
She told, “We certainly have seen reconnaissance activity, and some intrusions, into some of those institutions, especially those that have publicly identified themselves as working on COVID-related research.”
The institutions working on promising vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 do make their work public. But it makes other nation-states mark them for obtaining details about what exactly they are doing and even try stealing those institutions’ proprietary information.
The state-backed hackers used to target biopharmaceutical industries previously also, but it has increased during this COVID-19 crisis, said Ugoretz. No specific countries or organizations were named by Ugoretz.
Bill Evanina, Director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center warned that medical research organizations should protect the research they are conducting and be vigilant against those trying to steal information related to America’s response to theCOVID-19 pandemic.
The FBI, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence nor the Florida-based Health Information Sharing and Analysis Center commented on this.
Since the start of the outbreak in late December 2019, research and healthcare institutions related to COVID-19 treatments were targets of hackers and the U.S. cybersecurity officials had been monitoring the potential for hacking.
Two independent attempts to penetrate the World Health Organization by different state-backed hacking groups were identified by Reuters last month.
Scientists and researchers around the world are working round the clock to develop treatments and vaccines to control the spread of the disease. More than 2 million have been infected with the novel coronavirus globally causing 145,593 deaths.