US medical research organisations working on the development of a vaccine against the novel coronavirus have become targets of foreign cyber reconnaissance attacks, Bill Evanina, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Centre, stated in an interview with the BBC. Washington has previously warned organisations of the new threat so that they can prepare for potential cyber-attacks in the future.
Evanina went as far as to suggest that China could resort to such attacks in the future in order to steal research towards the creation of the much-needed vaccine, without delving into where the previous attacks came from.
"We have been working with our industry and government folk here very closely to ensure they are protecting all the research and data as best they can. We have every expectation that foreign intelligence services, to include the Chinese Communist Party, will attempt to obtain what we are making here", Evanina said.
The US official went on to note that research on COVID-19 and vaccines against it is currently the single most valuable object in the world to steal.
At the same time, anonymous security sources in the UK were cited by the BBC as claiming that they are witnessing similar cyber activity in their country as well.
Both the US and China have largely been working on the development of a vaccine against the coronavirus on their own. Some countries have chosen to join a global initiative by the World Health Organisation to develop a vaccine jointly as soon as possible. Many companies have been testing candidates for a working and safe vaccine for a while, with some already starting human trials.