US accuses Chinese hackers of targeting COVID-19 research

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And this is…bad? What am I missing? Isn’t it in everyone’s best interests to have research about a global pandemic distributed as widely as possible?


I’m having a hard time getting bent out of shape about hackers “stealing” COVID research. We should be sharing whatever we know freely with the world, and vice-versa. The fact that people are labeling this information “trade secrets” just tells me that the usual suspects are more interested in profiting from this disease than actually eradicating it.


Clausewitz mumble industrial espionage is a mere cough continuation of research with other means mumble mutter


“targeting COVID-19” seems to be a recent thing for a long running operation:

In some instances, the indictment says, they provided an officer for a Chinese intelligence service with whom they worked email accounts and passwords belonging to clergymen, dissidents and pro-democracy activists who could then be targeted. The officer gave help of his own, providing malicious software after one of the hackers struggled to compromise the mail server of a Burmese human rights group.

The hacking began more than 10 years ago, with targets including pharmaceutical, solar energy and medical device companies but also political dissidents, activists and clergy in the United States, China and Hong Kong, federal authorities said.

Here is the covid part:

Hacking of vaccine information slows down research as the institution must scramble not only to fix the breach but also to ensure the data it has accumulated has not been altered, Demers said.

“Once someone is in your system, they can not only take the data, they can manipulate the data,” Demers said. “We do worry to that extent that there could be a slowdown in the research efforts of that particular institution.”

Seems like a case for secure off-site and off-line backups + hashes.


If they’re only reading the data, but sabotage isn’t out of the question.

Every time there’s a hack, the researchers will have to carefully recheck the data to make sure that it hasn’t been tampered with, and that’s a criminal waste of time.


Meanwhile, there have been some headlines with scientists complaining that closed research is slowing down the process of developing and deploying vaccines.

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