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FBI sounds alarm on Chinese hacking linked to Coronavirus

ajc.com

The Federal Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday specifically warned researchers doing work on the Coronavirus to be aware of stepped up hacking efforts by groups tied to the Chinese government, warning those working on vaccines, treatments or general research to be wary of possible computer intrusions.

"Health care, pharmaceutical, and research sectors working on COVID-19 response should all be aware they are the prime targets of this activity and take the necessary steps to protect their systems," the FBI statement read.

In the warning, the FBI said groups tied to Beijing had already been targeting American organizations doing a variety of research efforts related to the virus outbreak.

"These actors have been observed attempting to identify and illicitly obtain valuable intellectual property (IP) and public health data related to vaccines, treatments, and testing from networks and personnel affiliated with COVID-19-related research," the FBI stated.

"The potential theft of this information jeopardizes the delivery of secure, effective, and efficient treatment options," the FBI concluded.

Earlier this week the President all but acknowledged the Chinese hacking efforts.

"So what else is new with China? What else is new?" the President said in the White House Rose Garden on Monday when asked by Steve Holland, a reporter for Reuters.

"I'm not happy with China," Mr. Trump added. "So now you're telling me they're hacking? So, I just say this, Steve: What else is new? We're watching it very closely."

In a series of recommendations to researchers, the FBI said anyone doing work related to the Coronavirus should assume - that if they are getting publicity in the news media - then they are probably going to get attention from hackers as well.

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