New Delhi: A US security official, who tracks Chinese hacking activity, has said that hackers deployed by the Chinese government targeted biotech company Moderna Inc. earlier this year in a bid to steal valuable data, according to a report in Reuters.
A US-based vaccine research developer, Moderna Inc. is one of the front-runners in the Covid-19 vaccine race. It announced its vaccine candidate in January, which will undergo a massive human clinical trial this month.
In an indictment made public last week, the US Department of Justice said that two Chinese nationals had been accused of spying on three unnamed Covid research organisations in the US.
The research firm confirmed that it had been in touch with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and was made aware about the suspected “information reconnaissance activities” by the hackers.
Reconnaissance activities include scouting important accounts after entering a network and probing public websites for vulnerabilities, among other things.
Moderna’s spokesperson Ray Jordan said, “Moderna remains highly vigilant to potential cybersecurity threats, maintaining an internal team, external support services and good working relationships with outside authorities to continuously assess threats and protect our valuable information.”
The developments come just days after US and China closed each other’s consulates. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the Chinese consulate in Houston was closed because “it was a den of spies”.
We are deeply grateful to our readers & viewers for their time, trust and subscriptions.
Quality journalism is expensive and needs readers to pay for it. Your support will define our work and ThePrint’s future.
Indictment of two Chinese nationals
Last week, the Justice Department accused China of sponsoring hackers targeting labs developing Covid vaccines.
Officials also charged two Chinese nationals for allegedly spying on US companies in Maryland, Massachusetts and California that are engaged in coronavirus research.
The indictment of former electrical engineering students Li Xiaoyu and Dong Jiazhi alleges that they stole terabytes of data from high-tech companies from around the world, including the US.
The other charges include trade secret theft, wire fraud conspiracy and they are also accused of receiving support from Chinese intelligence agencies.
Moderna’s vaccine candidate
Moderna’s vaccine is the foremost candidate in the vaccine race in the US. The Trump administration has hedged all its bets on it and has invested nearly half a billion dollars in its development.
The US government is also helping Moderna launch a clinical trial of up to 30,000 people, starting this month.
In an earlier trial, the vaccine candidate protected 16 monkeys against the Covid infection. Two injections of the vaccine protected against heavy exposure to the virus at two different levels of dosage.
News media is in a crisis & only you can fix it
You are reading this because you value good, intelligent and objective journalism. We thank you for your time and your trust.
You also know that the news media is facing an unprecedented crisis. It is likely that you are also hearing of the brutal layoffs and pay-cuts hitting the industry. There are many reasons why the media’s economics is broken. But a big one is that good people are not yet paying enough for good journalism.
We have a newsroom filled with talented young reporters. We also have the country’s most robust editing and fact-checking team, finest news photographers and video professionals. We are building India’s most ambitious and energetic news platform. And we aren’t even three yet.
At ThePrint, we invest in quality journalists. We pay them fairly and on time even in this difficult period. As you may have noticed, we do not flinch from spending whatever it takes to make sure our reporters reach where the story is. Our stellar coronavirus coverage is a good example. You can check some of it here.
This comes with a sizable cost. For us to continue bringing quality journalism, we need readers like you to pay for it. Because the advertising market is broken too.
If you think we deserve your support, do join us in this endeavour to strengthen fair, free, courageous, and questioning journalism, please click on the link below. Your support will define our journalism, and ThePrint’s future. It will take just a few seconds of your time.