China-backed hackers targeted Moderna, says report

July 31, 2020

Last week, the U.S. Justice Department made public a July 7 indictment of Chinese nationals accused of hacking U.S. companies, including three unnamed targets involved in coronavirus research.

The indictment alleged that two individuals, identified as Li Xiaoyu and Dong Jiazhi, conducted a decade-long hacking spree that most recently targeted the computer network of a Massachusetts biotech firm known to be working on a coronavirus vaccine.

According to a Reuters exclusive report, Moderna has confirmed that they have been in contact with the FBI and were informed of the possibility of “information reconnaissance activities” by the hacking group.

Moderna's vaccine, mRNA-1273, will soon be tested in a 30,000 participant Phase 3 study in the U.S. 

The two other medical research companies mentioned in the indictment, described as biotech companies based in California and Maryland, remain unidentified. Two suggested possibilities include Gilead and Novavax, but neither company has confirmed.

According to reporting from Reuters, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said the hacking allegations were baseless and without evidence, noting that China does not need to steal medical technology.