The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) are warning research organizations studying COVID-19 that they may be susceptible to targeting and network compromise by the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
“The FBI is investigating the targeting and compromise of U.S. organizations conducting COVID-19-related research by PRC-affiliated cyber actors and non-traditional collectors,” the May 13 public service announcement states. “These actors have been observed attempting to identify and illicitly obtain valuable intellectual property and public health data related to vaccines, treatments, and testing from networks and personnel affiliated with COVID-19-related research.”
The agencies caution healthcare, pharmaceutical, and research sectors to stay aware of possible attacks, calling them “prime targets” for malicious activity. Any organizations that believe they may have been a target of suspicious activity should contact their local FBI office. CISA recommends that organizations supporting the U.S. response to COVID-19 should partner with the agency for protection.