FBI cyber division warns against Chinese hackers

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WASHINGTON — The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security’s cyber division are warning hackers backed by the Chinese government may be attempting to steal the work of U.S. researchers on the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The two agencies issued a public service announcement of the potential threat on Wednesday. They issued a similar alert earlier this month.

A joint statement says China’s efforts pose a “significant threat” to the health care, pharmaceutical and research sectors.

The FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency says it would release technical details of the threat in the coming days and asked organizations to report any suspicious activity.

U.S. authorities have long complained that China has used hacking to steal academic and economic data to bolster its economy. This warning comes amid increased tensions between the two governments over the origins of the outbreak and China’s initial response.

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