May 13 (UPI) -- The FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency warned Wednesday the Chinese government and affiliates are looking to hack U.S. organizations doing coronavirus research.
"These actors have been observed attempting to identify and illicitly obtain valuable intellectual property and public health data related to vaccines, treatments and testing from networks and personnel affiliated with COVID-19-related research," the FBI and CISA statement said.
"The potential theft of this information jeopardizes the delivery of secure, effective and efficient treatment options," the statement said.
They urged agencies working on COVID-19 research to patch all systems for critical cyber vulnerabilities, actively scan web applications for unauthorized access, modification, or anomalous activities, require multi-factor authentication and suspend access of users exhibiting unusual activity.
In a statement Wednesday, Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., the ranking member in the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, called on the Trump administration to take stronger action against the Chinese government for coronavirus hacks.
"By targeting hospitals and healthcare providers, these state-sponsored hackers put the lives of Americans who are seeking care at risk," Peters said. "The administration should use public pressure and the threat of sanctions and additional indictments to deter future Chinese government attacks against research institutions."
Peters also called for increased cybersecurity funding for hospitals, medical and research institutions and directing Human and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to prioritize information technology in his department to improve cybersecurity.