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FBI Says Foreign Hackers Are Targeting Coronavirus Treatment Research

An official with the FBI's Cyber Readiness, Outreach, and Intelligence Branch didn't identify what companies are being targeted.
Posted at 7:23 AM, Apr 17, 2020

An FBI cybersecurity official says foreign government hackers are targeting companies that are researching possible COVID-19 treatments. 

"We certainly have seen reconnaissance activity, and some intrusions, into some of those institutions, especially those that have publicly identified themselves as working on COVID-related research," FBI Deputy Assistant Director Tonya Ugoretz said. 

Tonya Ugoretz works in the FBI's Cyber Readiness, Outreach, and Intelligence Branch. 

She didn't identify what companies are being targeted with the hacks or what countries are involved. 

Ugoretz pointed out that while the biopharmaceutical industry is often a pretty popular target for hackers, these types of cybercrimes have increased exponentially during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Other cybersecurity experts have reported seeing a surge in ransomware attacks on hospitals and health care systems across the globe. 

The  U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Interpol have both warned about the increase in these kinds of attacks, which aim to extort money from victims. They've urged people working in medical facilities to make sure their software is up to date and not to click on any suspicious-looking emails.