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US sources ‘Nation-state commissioned hackers targeting companies researching COVID-19, & sometimes penetrating systems in order to spy.’

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US FBI Deputy Assistant Director Tonya Ugoretz mentioned the cyber-espionage activity in an online panel discussion organised by the Aspen Institute, reported Reuters.

It was claimed that when companies publicly disclose that they are investigating the virus, it “makes them a mark for other nation-states that are interested in gathering details about what exactly they’re doing & maybe even stealing proprietary information that those institutions have.”

APT Groups

However, no threat actors or APT groups were actually named.

“As a general rule, as data increases in value, the threats to that data will become more advanced and targeted… with more resources and funding behind them,” observed Tony Cook, Director of Crypsis Group, who are an incident response, risk management & digital forensics company.

He additionally outlined:-


“The COVID pandemic has created a situation of international focus – perhaps more so than at any other time in recent history – driving focus around treatment, cures, food availability and supply chains. We can expect to see not only the threats around these areas of concern becoming more sophisticated, but also nation-state threat actors and organised crime becoming predominant in the activity,”


Tony further mentioned. “Research activity around the pandemic is certainly going to be of heightened global interest, as this data is extremely valuable & will be sought after by many different threat groups. It is imperative, now more than ever, that healthcare entities ensure their security postures are as robust as possible to thwart these attacks.”

Organised Crime

A means to keep organised crime at bay might be for governments to co-operate and therefore to share their Covid-19 research.


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