US, UK Officials Warn of Cyberattacks on Hospitals, Research Facilities on Virus Front Lines

Two U.S. officials told NBC News that coronavirus patient information, as well as vaccine research, is sought after by hackers, including those working for China

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Law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and the U.K. are citing an increase in "malicious cyber campaigns" targeting hospitals, medical institutions and others involved in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Two U.S. law enforcement officials told NBC News that the increased amount of information hospitals are collecting on patients because of the pandemic, as well as any research that could lead to the development of a vaccine, is highly sought after by hackers working on behalf of foreign governments, including China's.

On Tuesday, the U.K.'s National Cyber Security Centre and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security updated their joint April 8 warning to hospitals and other medical institutions, saying hackers "may seek to obtain intelligence on national and international health care policy or acquire sensitive data on COVID-19 related research."

The updated joint advisory does not specifically name China or any other suspected government or group, but it says the actors "frequently target organizations in order to collect bulk personal information, intellectual property and intelligence that aligns with national priorities."

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