Two alleged Chinese hackers have been accused of stealing data on the development of COVID-19 vaccines and breach the systems of hundreds of companies.

According to the US Department of Justice, two Chinese citizens — Li Xiaoyu, 34, and Dong Jiazhi, 33 — carried out cyberattacks against a number of US and global organizations. Among the alleged targets of these hackers, Defense Department contractors and scientific researchers focused on finding treatments and vaccines against COVID-19 were included.

Among the data obtained would be designs of new weapons, information on new drugs, or source code of programs and applications.

US prosecutors have not named any of the companies allegedly affected by these attacks. But they had confirmed that the investigation began when a nuclear production complex in Washington state was hacked.

The investigation revealed that the same attackers had seized multiple terabytes of data from computers located around the world.

In addition to the US, the affected countries would be the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, and Belgium, although prosecutors speak of “hundreds and hundreds of victims worldwide,” highlighting that this is the “most prolific” group of hackers that have investigated.

The accusation falls squarely on the Chinese government, as investigators claim that Li and Dong acted as contractors for the Chinese security ministry. China has repeatedly denied that it pays independent hackers like Li and Dong to carry out attacks on the US.

Last week, the United Kingdom, along with the US and Canada, accused a Russian-associated hacking group of stealing potential coronavirus vaccine research.

The COVID-19 vaccine may be very close, with several projects already reporting good results in initial tests — it is now when the politics of pride and money comes into play.

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