US charges China of hacking coronavirus research labs
The US Justice Department has charged China with sponsoring hackers who are hacking labs developing coronavirus vaccines.
Two Chinese men have been charged who allegedly spied on US companies and labs conducting coronavirus researches. US officials claimed that Chinese men got help from state agents for other thefts.
Former electrical engineering students Li Xiaoyu and Dong Jiazhi were accused of trade secret theft and wire fraud conspiracy. The accusations were released on Tuesday.
Earlier, Russia has been accused by the US, UK, and Canada of trying to steal research related to Covid-19.
According to the international news agency, two men spied on Massachusetts Biotech Company in January. The biotech company was working on coronavirus pandemic. In addition to this, they allegedly targeted a Maryland company less than a week as it was working on Covid-19 research.
Officials said that the men often received support from Chinese intelligence agents, including an officer from the Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS).
The indictment unsealed in Washington state said the two men – who reside in China – recently “researched vulnerabilities in the networks of biotech and other firms publicly known for work on Covid-19 vaccines, treatments, and testing technology”.
Prosecutors said that they previously hacked “hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of trade secrets, intellectual property, and other valuable business information” beginning in 2009.
Companies in different countries including Australia, Belgium, Germany, Japan, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and the UK were targeted.
Prosecutors said that men at times worked on their own interests. But they “were stealing information of obvious interest” to the Chinese government at other times.
According to the indictment, the hackers “worked with, were assisted by, and operated with the acquiescence of” the MSS.
“China has now taken its place, alongside Russia, Iran and North Korea, in that shameful club of nations that provide a safe haven for cybercriminals in exchange for those criminals being ‘on-call’ to work for the benefit of the state, here to feed the Chinese Communist party’s insatiable hunger for American and other non-Chinese companies’ hard-earned intellectual property, including Covid-19 research,” John Demers, assistant attorney general for national security, said on Tuesday.
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