May 11, 2020 / GREG MYRE
As researchers around the globe race to develop a coronavirus vaccine, U.S. authorities are warning American firms to exercise extreme caution in safeguarding their research against China and others with a track record of stealing cutting-edge medical technology.
“We are imploring all those research facilities and hospitals and pharmaceutical companies that are doing really great research to do everything in their power to protect it,” Bill Evanina, the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, said in an interview with NPR.
“We don’t want that company or the research hospital to be the one a year from now, two years from now, identified as having it all stolen before they finished it,” said Evanina, whose center falls under the director of national intelligence.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Britain’s National Cyber Security Center recently issued a statement saying hackers are “actively targeting organisations … that include healthcare bodies, pharmaceutical companies, academia, medical research organisations, and local government.”
The statement did not name China or any other country. Reuters reported that hackers linked to Iran tried to break into email accounts at the U.S. drugmaker Gilead Sciences, which has a potentially promising drug to treat the COVID-19 virus. Iran denied the report.