Senators Respond to Attempted Attacks on U.S. IP by Chinese Hackers

“It is absolutely unacceptable for Chinese government affiliated hackers to attempt to steal or disrupt important research from companies and institutions who are developing essential diagnostics, cures, and treatments.” – Senators’ letter

Chinese Hackers -, U.S. Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), John Cornyn (R-TX), and Ben Sasse (R-NE) sent a letter to Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Director Christopher Krebs regarding a notice issued last week by their agencies alerting American companies and research institutions about attempted attacks by hackers affiliated with the Chinese government.  According to the notice, these hackers “have been observed attempting to identify and illicitly obtain valuable …. (IP) and public health data related to vaccines, treatments, and testing from networks and personnel affiliated with COVID-19-related research.”

Citing the “alarming” notice, the senators explained that the attempted attacks “jeopardized the delivery of ‘secure, effective, and efficient treatment option[s].’” They further noted that any actions that affect the development of treatment options, including the theft of intellectual property, is threat to our “health, economic recovery, and national security” and is “absolutely unacceptable”:

While any government sponsored hacking of American companies is a cause for concern, it is especially troublesome that the Chinese government would target companies developing vaccines and treatments for the novel coronavirus…. It is absolutely unacceptable for Chinese government affiliated hackers to attempt to steal or disrupt important research from companies and institutions who are developing essential diagnostics, cures, and treatments.

The senators reiterated a request made in the notice “for any American companies or research institutions developing COVID-19 related intellectual property to take advantage of resources offered by CISA to prevent potential cyber intrusions” and additionally expressed their hope that “any company or institution that believes it is or was a target will report the intrusion to the FBI without delay.”

The letter asked that the FBI and CISA answer the following three questions by June 20, 2020:

    1. What additional statutory tools or authorities do your agencies require to more effectively combat state-sponsored hacking of American companies?
    2. What additional financial resources or appropriations do you require in order to prevent and investigate further attempted thefts and intrusions?
    3. What steps are your agencies taking—besides the recently published notice—to inform American companies or research institutions about the threats posed by Chinese hackers? In addition, what steps are you taking to help companies and research institutions increase their cybersecurity and prevent further intrusions?”

In conclusion, the senators expressed confidence in the FBI and CISA and noted their willingness to assist the agencies: “Please know that as you continue to combat state sponsored hacking and the theft of American intellectual property we stand ready and willing to assist you.”

Image Source: Deposit Photos
Author: karenr
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Join the Discussion

3 comments so far.

  • [Avatar for MaxDrei]
    May 26, 2020 07:53 am

    I’m in Europe, where 8 approaches to vaccination for which human trials are about to start or have already started. Each of the 8 is an international collaboration of Big Pharma, start-up and university. Four of them have a team member that is Chinese.

    I had supposed that such international co-operation was vital, to save the human race from the corona virus in all its mutations.

    But apparently not. At least, not according to the FBI, which tells us:

    “The potential theft of this information jeopardizes the delivery of secure, effective, and efficient treatment options.”

    Can somebody explain?

  • [Avatar for Different View]
    Different View
    May 21, 2020 10:29 pm

    Average Americans are much more likely to be affected by U.S. tech giants, than the Chinese government.

  • [Avatar for anonymous]
    May 21, 2020 03:58 pm

    The article notes “the theft of intellectual property, is a threat to our ‘health, economic recovery, and national security’ and is ‘absolutely unacceptable.’” Noting the wrongs of “the theft of American intellectual property”, the senators said “we stand ready and willing to assist you.”

    But China isn’t the only thief or infringer. Doing just as much or more damage are Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft and others. To many small companies and individuals, these big companies are like China, taking what they can because of their might and financial resources. Willful infringers. Thieves in broad daylight. And counting on Congress to do nothing.

    If you REALLY mean “we stand ready and willing to assist you”, start by fixing the 101 issue and remove judicial exceptions to patent eligibility. Otherwise, as Judge Plager told you, The Emperor Has No Clothes.