Did China hope to steal the cure for the very pandemic they began? According to the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), there’s compelling evidence that they did. In a joint press release, the agencies revealed that China seems to be actively hacking research facilities working on treatments and vaccines for the Wuhan Coronavirus.
Of course, this behavior should come as no surprise considering that China put the world in greater jeopardy than it would have otherwise been by keeping silent on critical data regarding the outbreak in Wuhan. Liberty Nation‘s Kelli Ballard reported on the investigation into the illegal nature of withholding information and the World Health Organization’s complicity in China’s actions.
Now, China-sponsored hackers are attempting to steal research data and information that could help in relieving the misery and potentially reduce the number of deaths. The cyber-attacks target the data sharing networks and the personnel who are involved in the Coronavirus-related scientific investigation. What China’s motivation is in attacking the research scientists’ cyber networks is difficult to ferret out. According to Business Insider, cybersecurity researchers from the firm Check Point, an Israel-based company, believe that most likely the hackers used “new servers and new tools throughout January and February” to give the impressions that “people are not dying of Coronavirus.” Though Check Point was not sure it was the Chinese, the profile was characteristic of what China is capable of since the same researchers did intercept a “coronavirus-themed phishing attack from an established Chinese hacking group on government agencies in Mongolia.”
Additionally, the episode of Beijing’s cyber hacking that caught the FBI’s attention is consistent with its continuing activities. China may very well intend to introduce fake data into healthcare research information on COVID-19 or skew the information to make the infection seem exaggerated or diminished depending on what message Beijing wants the world outside China to believe. The potential is great that these intrusions into the U.S. research cyber networks could be designed to impede the work to find a vaccine or effective treatment so that China could come to the rescue as the white knight saving the day. The message to the World: China looks good; the West – and particularly the U.S. – looks incompetent. We know that China has done similar things before.
During the early months of the pandemic, China hoarded critically needed ventilators, billions of masks, and personal protective equipment (PPE). International Business Times reports that American firms manufacturing PPE in China were prevented by the Peoples Republic of China from exporting that gear to the U.S. and other countries where there was a critical need. From China’s own customs data, we know the nation attempted to corner the world market on “PPE like gloves, goggles, and masks.” The idea that China would not hesitate to try to steal vaccine and pharmaceutical research data with the aid of a cyberattack is more than just plausible.
As you might suspect, China protests such charges. The Beijing government news outlet Global Times lost no time in counterattacking. In an op-ed, a Global Times reporter, Li Qingqing, maintained that the FBI warnings about China cyber-attacks lacked “substantial evidence to support the accusations.”
He continued, “The despicable war of words is a publicity stunt by certain crank Politicians.” What Li failed to note was that the accusations were made by the FBI, not politicians. Furthermore, Li wrote, “The COVID-19 pandemic is still raging across the world, especially in the U.S. If any country dares to hack other countries’ labs and steal research results into vaccines, it would be an act against all of humanity.”
Yes, it would – but if the allegation against China proves true, Li will have to eat those words.
The views expressed are those of the author and not of any other affiliation.
Read more from Dave Patterson.
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