US accuses Chinese hackers of targeting COVID-19 research

Hackers. [Shutterstock]

Hackers working for China's government targeted firms working on coronavirus vaccines, and stole hundreds of millions of dollars worth of intellectual property and trade secrets, claims the Justice Department in a statement Tuesday announcing criminal charges.

From the Associated Press:

The indictment does not accuse the two Chinese defendants of actually obtaining the coronavirus research, but it does underscore the extent to which scientific innovation has been a top target for foreign governments and criminal hackers looking to know what American companies are developing during the pandemic. In this case, the hackers researched vulnerabilities in the computer networks of biotech firms and diagnostic companies that were developing vaccines and testing kits and researching antiviral drugs.

The charges are the latest in a series of aggressive Trump administration actions targeting China. They come as President Donald Trump, his reelection prospects damaged by the coronavirus outbreak, has blamed China for the pandemic and as administration officials have escalated their denunciations of Beijing, including over alleged efforts to steal intellectual property through hacking.

The indictment includes trade secret theft and wire fraud conspiracy charges against the hackers, former classmates at an electrical engineering college who prosecutors say worked together for more than a decade targeting high-tech companies in more than 10 countries.

More at the AP:US accuses Chinese hackers in targeting of COVID-19 research