The FBI and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency have issued a warning that China is attempting to hack the networks of U.S. organizations, pharmaceutical companies and health care professionals working on coronavirus vaccines and research.
The federal agencies called research institutions, companies and others working on the COVID-19 response “prime targets” for Chinese cyberattacks. Federal officials issued the warning after hackers linked to the Chinese government were caught trying to “identify and illicitly obtain valuable intellectual property” and other research related to the coronavirus.
Officials said these targeted organizations need to “take the necessary steps to protect their system.” Recommendations include patching all systems for critical vulnerabilities, scanning web applications for suspicious activity as well as unauthorized access and implement multi-factor authentication.
“China’s efforts to target these sectors pose a significant threat to our nation’s response to COVID-19,” the agencies said in a joint statement.
Officials said those who suspect they have been the target of Chinese hacking should contact their local FBI field office.
Also earlier this month it was revealed that cybercriminals attacked three research labs working on COVID-19 treatments and vaccines, including one in California.