The U.S. government charged two Chinese nationals Tuesday for allegedly trying to hack computers at firms developing coronavirus vaccines and other companies around the world.
The Justice Department says the hacking started more than 10 years ago. They allegedly targeted governments, non-governmental organizations, human rights activists and others in the U.S. and abroad, including Hong Kong and China. The DOJ said they stole information for their own personal financial gain or that they knew would benefit the Chinese government.
"China steals intellectual property and research which bolsters its economy," FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich said. "And then they use that illicit gain as a weapon to silence any country that would dare challenge their illegal actions. This type of economic coercion is not what we expect from a trusted world leader. It is what we expect from an organized criminal syndicate."
The DOJ said hundreds of millions of dollars worth of trade secrets, intellectual property and more were stolen. But it didn't say whether the hackers successfully stole coronavirus research.
In May, U.S. agencies warned Chinese government hackers were targeting medical research related to COVID-19. Just last week, the U.S., U.K. and Canada accused Russian hackers of trying to steal coronavirus-related research.