US DoJ charges Chinese hackers for targeting COVID-19 research

Pierluigi Paganini July 21, 2020

US Justice Department accused two Chinese hackers of stealing trade secrets from companies worldwide and targeting firms developing a COVID-19 vaccine.

This week, the US Justice Department accused two Chinese hackers of stealing trade secrets from companies worldwide and recently involved in attacks against firms developing a vaccine for the COVID-19.

According to the indictment, Chinese hackers were probing computer networks of companies working on the development of vaccines and treatments.

“Hackers working with the Chinese government targeted firms developing vaccines for the coronavirus and stole hundreds of millions of dollars worth of intellectual property and trade secrets from companies across the world, the Justice Department said Tuesday as it announced criminal charges.” reported APNews.

The case was filed earlier in early July in federal court in Washington state and was unsealed on Tuesday.

The federal prosecutors also charged the Chinese hackers for the theft of trade secrets and wire fraud conspiracy. US officials believe the hackers were operating for the Beijing government because they have stolen information of interest to the Chinese government.

It is not clear if the hackers were able to steal data related to COVID-19 research from the targeted organizations.

“An email sent by The Associated Press to the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C., seeking comment on the hacking charges was not immediately returned.” concludes APNews.

Recently the British National Cyber Security Centre revealed that Russia-linked group APT29 is conducting cyberespionage campaigns targeting UK, US, and Canadian organizations working of the development of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The NCSC assesses that APT29, also named “the Dukes” or “Cozy Bear” almost certainly operate as part of Russian intelligence services.”

This assessment is supported by other partners at the Canadian Communication Security Establishment (CSE), the US Department for Homeland Security (DHS) Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the National Security Agency (NSA).

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, COVID-19)

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