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US authorities have accused Chinese and Iranian hackers of carrying out cyberattacks against American pharmacists and medical universities to steal information about the vaccines and treatments being tested against COVID-19.
According to The Wall Street Journal , the Trump government claims that Chinese and Iranian hackers have the ability to "irreversibly harm" American healthcare facilities. Cyber attacks have already disrupted the coronavirus vaccine investigation, although authorities are still trying to find out whether the damage was intentional or collateral.
"It is difficult, and sometimes impossible, to know what motivates such action, but any such activity carries the risk of triggering accidental and detrimental effects," a senior administration official told the Journal.
The FBI and the government's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA), which reports to the Department of Homeland Security, denounced the cyberattacks in a statement, seeking to "raise awareness of the threat to the investigation related to COVID-19" .
The FBI is currently investigating alleged cyber attacks by Chinese "hackers" on organizations in the United States. "It has been observed that these actors (the hackers) are illicitly trying to identify and obtain valuable intellectual property and public health data related to vaccines, treatments and tests from networks and personnel affiliated with the research related to COVID-19," it indicates. the note.
The FBI and CISA warned that theft of this type of information would jeopardize the goal of achieving a "safe, effective and efficient" treatment for COVID-19.
For this reason, they urged research centers to reinforce their cybersecurity to avoid thefts and solve any breach in their computer systems ; and they advised to avoid any media attention to avoid "greater interest and cyber activity" on the part of the pirates.
The US authorities launched these allegations without providing any supporting evidence.
An official consulted by the CNN television network specified that some of the institutions and research organizations allegedly targets of Chinese cyberattacks have been hospitals, laboratories and pharmaceutical companies.
The "hack" has also affected the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the government Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and which has experienced an increase in attempts at daily cyberattacks, according to that source. .
Coronavirus fuels attacks
In recent months, cyber attacks have increased as a consequence of the coronavirus crisis.
On April 22, the US Department of Justice. reported that the FBI had received more than 3,600 COVID-19-related cybercrime complaints , many of them perpetrated through websites advertising false vaccines and cures.
As a consequence of the health crisis, the tension between Washington and Beijing has also increased, as the US government feeds the hypothesis of China's responsibility in the spread of the pandemic for allegedly "hiding" information about the "severity" of the coronavirus, by that President Donald Trump refers to as the "Chinese virus".
In addition, the White House defends the hypothesis, rejected by much of the scientific community and the World Health Organization (WHO), which attributes the pathogen to an "animal origin" that the coronavirus was generated in a laboratory in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the initial focus of the pandemic.
According to The New York Times , which quotes officials and former officials of the US Administration, the decision to make these accusations of cyber attacks public is part of a comprehensive deterrence strategy , designed by the US Cyber Command, which reports to the Department of Defense, and the National Security Agency.
Under the legal authority that Trump granted them almost two years ago, both agencies have the power to infiltrate Chinese networks to orchestrate response cyberattacks, although it is currently unknown whether any have finally been carried out.
The North American country is the current epicenter of the pandemic, leading the number of infections and deaths worldwide, with 1,380,465 confirmed cases and 83,249 deaths from COVID-19.
In this situation, the director of the Science and Technological Innovation Program of the Wilson Center ideas laboratory, Meg King, stressed the importance of "health technology tools", keys to ending the pandemic, but which can also serve to lead to conduct cyber attacks.
And he considered that this type of information can serve to achieve geopolitical advantages or financial gains, bringing today's notice from the United States. "It is crucial": "Just as the medical community protects patient data, advances in research must also be safeguarded, " he said.
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