Foreign hackers searching for ways to steal coronavirus research remain a “very, very real cyber threat,” FBI Director Christopher A. Wray told the House Homeland Security Committee Thursday.
Mr. Wray reiterated concerns about Chinese and Russian hackers targeting U.S. research involving COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, during a hearing on homeland threats.
“We are seeing efforts by our foreign adversaries to engage in cyber targeting of COVID vaccine research, testing technology, treatment technology and efforts to disrupt our national response to the pandemic,” Mr. Wray acknowledged in response to a question posed by Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, New Mexico Democrat.
The FBI recently accused Chinese hackers of targeting U.S. coronavirus research, Mr. Wray recalled, noting British counterparts have blamed Russians for similar conduct as well.
Crediting what he called the FBI’s “forward-leaning” approach to engaging with potential victims, Mr. Wray said he believes likely targets have taken appropriate steps to harden their computer systems.
“I think we’ve been pretty successful in getting there before valuable information has been lost,” Mr. Wray testified.” “But make no mistake. This is a very, very real cyber threat that we’re contending with daily.”
The World Health Organization reported learning about the first cases of COVID-19 on New Year’s Eve. Millions of people worldwide have subsequently contracted the incurable disease and died.
Security intelligence agencies in the U.S., U.K. and Canada issued a joint advisory in July accusing suspected Russian state-sponsored hackers of targeting organizations researching COVID-19.
The Department of Justice separately unsealed an indictment several days later charging two Chinese men accused of hacking firms researching the virus.
• Andrew Blake can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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