The U.S.is warning that China is likely launching cyberattacks in an attempt to steal coronavirus data from American research institutions and pharmaceutical companies.
There has also been skepticism about the accuracy of China's COVID-19 figures throughout the crisis, fueled by official efforts to quash bad news in the early days and a general distrust of the government.
The potential theft of this information "jeopardises the delivery of secure, effective, and efficient treatment options".
The announcement represents an escalation in U.S. efforts to combat alleged Chinese espionage and cyber attacks.
US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in the past, both suggested that the novel coronavirus originated or leaked from a lab in Wuhan, China. Cybersecurity experts and United States official stated previous year that Chinese hackers targeted more than 24 universities in an effort to steal information about maritime technology developed for military use, according to theWall Street Journal. The alert also did not say whether any hacking attacks have been successful. "It is immoral to target China with rumours and slanders in the absence of any evidence", Zhao Lijian, the spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said when asked about the warning which was first reported by the NY Times.
Just 86 people remain hospitalized for treatment of COVID-19 while another 519 people are in supervised isolation for showing signs of the virus or having tested positive without displaying symptoms. Those that succeed are likely to reap tremendous economic and political advantage.
"The FBI is investigating the targeting and compromise of US organizations conducting COVID-19-related research by [People's Republic of China]-affiliated cyber actors and non-traditional collectors", reads the statement from DHS's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the FBI.
"These actors have been observed attempting to identify and illicitly obtain valuable intellectual property and public health data related to vaccines, treatments, and testing from networks and personnel affiliated with COVID-19-related research".