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US accuses Chinese hackers in targeting of COVID-19 research

2020-07-21 16:42 by


The Department of Justice on Tuesday accused two Chinese nationals, who it said were working on behalf of the Chinese government, of stealing trade secrets and hacking into computer systems of firms working on the Covid-19 vaccine.

The charges were part of an 11-count indictment that alleges the two individuals conducted a global hacking campaign that went on for more than 10 years. Most recently, the hackers probed for vulnerabilities in the computer networks of a Massachusetts biotech firm conducting COVID-19 vaccine, testing and treatment research.

The indictment says the hackers operated both for their own profit and also for the main Chinese intelligence service, the Ministry of State Security. It says they were assisted by an unnamed Chinese intelligence officer known to the grand jury. Officials said these were the first federal charges related to alleged theft of coronavirus research.

Worldwide, more than 160 groups are working on COVID-19 vaccine candidates, and 24 have reached human testing, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers in China have advanced several mid- and late-stage candidates, the agency says.

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