China-backed hackers 'tried stealing data from Covid-19 vaccine developer Moderna'

HACKER linked to the Chinese government allegedly targeted a coronavirus vaccine research developer in the US this year to try and steal data.

On Friday, China rejected accusations that the hackers who targeted Moderna Inc, a Massachusetts-based biotech firm, were linked to their government.

The allegations were made by a US security official tracking Chinese hacking.

Last week, the US Justice Department announced the indictment of two Chinese nationals accused of spying on the United States.

The July 7 indictment alleges that that two Chinese hackers, identified as Li Xiaoyu and Dong Jiazhi, conducted a decade-long hacking spree that most recently included the targeting of COVID-19 medical research groups.

The surveillance included three unnamed US-based targets, which are involved in medical research to combat the pandemic.

The indictment said the Chinese hackers “conducted reconnaissance” against the computer network of a Massachusetts biotech firm known to be working on a COVID-19 vaccine in January.

Moderna confirmed to Reuters that the company had been in contact with the FBI.

The outlet reported that the research developer was made aware of the suspected “information reconnaissance activities” by the hacking group mentioned in last week’s indictment.

Reconnaissance activities can include a range of actions from probing public website for vulnerabilities to scouting out important accounts after entering a network, cyber security experts say.

“Moderna remains highly vigilant to potential cybersecurity threats, maintain an internal team, external support service and good working relationships with outside authorities to continuously access threats and protect our valuable information,” a company spokesman said.

Moderna’s vaccine candidate is one of the earliest and biggest bets by the Trump administration to fight the pandemic.

The federal government is supporting development of the company’s vaccine with nearly half a billion dollars and helping Moderna launch a clinical trial of up to 30,000 people beginning this month.

China is also racing to develop a vaccine, joining together its state, military and private sectors to combat a disease that has killed more than 660,000 people worldwide.

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