The US government on Tuesday charged two Chinese “hackers” with attempting to steal coronavirus vaccine data from companies in at least 11 countries, including Spain, Germany and South Korea.
The hackers, identified as Li Xiaoyu, 34, and Dong Jiazhi, 33, both residents of China, have been charged with 11 criminal charges in a Washington state court (west coast).
Both attacked 13 companies located in the United States and 12 companies abroad that were investigating a vaccine, one of the prosecutors involved in the investigation, William D. Hyslop, said at a press conference. In the indictment, the prosecutors do not detail the names of these companies and limit themselves to general descriptions.
For example, they explain that one of the cyber-attacks was “directed against a Spanish electronics and defence company” and that, in March 2020, Chinese pirates managed to steal approximately 900 gigabytes of information on technology for the civil and defence sector.
In total, according to Washington, victims are located in at least 11 countries: the United States, Australia, Belgium, Germany, Japan, Lithuania, the Netherlands, South Korea, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. In the case of the US, Chinese hackers attacked, among others, a company located in Massachusetts, whose name is not mentioned but which could be Modern.
Moderna’s trials are considered to be among the most advanced, as it was the first to test its vaccine on humans. On May 13, the FBI and another U.S. intelligence agency already said in a report that Chinese “hackers” were attacking U.S. research centers to steal information about the vaccines and treatments being tested for the coronavirus.
Also last week, the UK, US and Canada claimed that hackers linked to the Russian agency were trying to steal vaccine information, something the Kremlin denies. Tension between the US and China has risen in recent months fuelled by the coronavirus pandemic, with both countries blaming each other.