US blames China for hacks allegedly targeting COVID-19 research

There's been a surge of attacks targeting the CDC's overseer.

TAMI CHAPPELL/AFP via Getty Images

It probably won’t surprise you to hear that state-backed hacking is still going on during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the US is reportedly convinced that one country is mounting a large campaign. Officials speaking to CNN claim they’ve seen a surge of cyberattacks against American government agencies and pharmaceutical firms, and they’re pinning the campaign on China. The country is believed to be trying to steal COVID-19 research to aid development of treatments or vaccines.

While attacks have hit a string of healthcare providers and pharmaceutical companies, the Department of Health and Human Services (which manages the CDC) has seen a “surge of daily strikes,” according to CNN.

China hasn’t responded to the accusations so far, and it’s notable that other countries have been accused of exploiting the new coronavirus. Reuters, for instance, asserted that Iranian hackers had tried to compromise email accounts for WHO workers. Russia and North Korea are also on the short list of potential candidates.

Still, a Chinese campaign would be consistent with past reports. China has reportedly backed a disinformation campaign to cause chaos around the virus, for instance. Officials have also blamed healthcare-oriented hacks on China in the past. Whether or not China is responsible for a new wave of attacks, its history isn’t exactly helping its case.