Reports from Japan indicate that a number of research institutions currently working to develop a coronavirus vaccine have been affected by cyberattacks – reportedly coming from China according to a U.S. based information security (infosec) firm.
In the revelation made on Monday, the Silicon Valley, California based CROWDSTRIKE, whilst not revealing which agencies in Japan had been affected put their claim down to methods employed in the attacks.
These are said to have included the regular sending of emails with virus infected electronic attachments – a common infosec issue faced by computer users worldwide.
The attacks started as early as April as the world raced to develop an effective anti-COVID vaccine.
As a result, Japan’s National Center of Incident Readiness and Strategy for Cybersecurity requested all agencies including pharmaceutical companies and research agencies raise their infosec game to counter such attacks.
Of the almost 200 projects around the world working to develop a vaccine, leading Japanese agencies known to be taking part include the University of Tokyo, the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, and prominent names in the pharmaceutical industry Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., and Daiichi Sankyo Co.
It is not the first time China has been accused of using cyberattacks to access western research on a COVID vaccine.
Earlier in the summer, the UK, Canada and the U.S. first brought the issue to the global media when accusing Russia of a similar tactic. Moscow denied any involvement.
Soon after the U.S. Justice Department accused two Chinese it said were working for the Chinese Communist Party of hacking offences to steal research related to the race for a vaccine. Like Moscow, Beijing also denied any involvement.