The United States has formally held China responsible for launching cyber-attacks against American entities working on COVID-19 research.

The allegations were levelled in a joint statement issued by the Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (DHS CISA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

The two agencies said they’re probing attacks launched by “PRC-affiliated cyber actors and non-traditional collectors.”

“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 two agencies said.

“The potential theft of this information jeopardizes the delivery of secure, effective, and efficient treatment options.”

The joint statement, in addition to putting blame for the recent attacks, is also intended to serve as a caution for other US organizations.

“Assume that press attention affiliating your organization with COVID-19 related research will lead to increased interest and cyber activity,” the US government warned.

If organizations feel they might be attacked, CISA and the FBI advised them to take preventive and practical steps to thwart the hackers’ capacity to breach their networks by taking all necessary measures possible.

Some of these include fixing all systems for critical flaws; aggressively scanning web applications for illegal access, modification, or irregular activities; improving credential requirements and identifying and suspending access of users showing unusual activity. 


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