Skip to main content

Hackers targeting coronavirus research facilities

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/Wichy)

Individuals searching for information about the coronavirus pandemic are not the only group currently targeted by cybercriminals. 

According a Reuters report, the FBI has suggested hospitals and other research institutions working on a vaccine are also under heightened threat of attack.

Speaking on an virtual panel hosted by the Aspen Institute, FBI Deputy Assistant Director Tonya Ugoretz explained that "foreign government hackers" and similar state-backed group are attempting to break into the systems of research companies working on the coronavirus.

“We certainly have seen reconnaissance activity, and some intrusions, into some of those institutions, especially those that have publicly identified themselves as working on Covid-related research,” she said.

However, she did not disclose the names of the organisations targeted, or the groups that were conducting recon.

Bill Evanina, Director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Centre, said medical research organisations and their employees should remain “vigilant against threat actors seeking to steal intellectual property or other sensitive data related to America’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

“Now is the time to protect the critical research you’re conducting," he added.

The pharmaceutical industry has historically been a significant target for cybercriminals looking to steal valuable intellectual property or patient data - an issue only exacerbated by the coronavirus outbreak.