By Duncan Smith
The Trump administration is set to accuse the Chinese government of attempting to hack into U.S. systems and steal the latest research on coronavirus
Citing multiple reports, the Washington Examiner noted that the public warning about China “is expected to come from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security in the coming days.”
The draft language of the warning says bad actors from China are targeting “valuable intellectual property and public health data through illicit means related to vaccines, treatments, and testing.”
The warning will not only single out Chinese cyberattacks but also “nontraditional actors” such as Chinese operatives who are attempting to infiltrate U.S. labs and American university research facilities in order to steal key coronavirus data.
The effort to warn China is part of a bigger push by U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency to let Beijing know Washington is onto the attempted theft.
The Washington Examiner noted further:
Last week, a joint alert from the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the United Kingdom’s National Cyber Security Centre warned that “advanced persistent threat groups are exploiting the Coronavirus Disease 2019 pandemic as part of their cyber operations” without naming the specific country or countries backing these groups.
The U.S.-U.K. warning noted that hackers were targeting “healthcare bodies, pharmaceutical companies, academia, medical research organizations, and local governments” and were attempting to obtain “intelligence on national and international healthcare policy, or acquire sensitive data on COVID-19-related research.” The two governments warned that organizations involved in COVID-19 virus research are “attractive targets” for foreign hackers “looking to obtain information for their domestic research efforts into COVID-19-related medicine.”
Last week, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence announced its intent to “strengthen the intelligence community’s cyber posture” by combining four previously separate ODNI cyber organizations into one focused operation, dubbed “the IC Cyber Executive.”
And last month, the head of the Justice Department’s China Initiative, John Demers, strongly suggested that China was trying to hack into coronavirus research databases.
“It’s certainly the logical conclusion of everything I’ve said — there is nothing more valuable today than biomedical research relating to vaccines or treatments for the coronavirus,” he said.
“It would be beyond absurd to think that, well, the Chinese, they care about all this other stuff, but this they’re gonna lay off.”