The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued a public service announcement today warning organizations researching COVID-19 of likely targeting and network compromise by the People’s Republic of China (PRC). 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.
U.S. Says China is Targeting of COVID-19 Research Organizations
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is investigating the targeting and compromise of U.S. organizations conducting COVID-19-related research by China-affiliated "cyber actors and non-traditional collectors."
According to the FBI, 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 and CISA urge all organizations conducting research in these areas to maintain dedicated cybersecurity and insider threat practices to prevent surreptitious review or theft of COVID-19-related material.
The FBI said it would provide additional technical details regarding the threat in the coming days. CISA and the United Kingdom’s National Cyber Security Agency released a similar alert earlier this month warning of malicious actors targeting COVID-19 response organizations using a tactic of password spraying.