Chinese trial data hackers reportedly active again

Earlier this month the Obama administration publicly accused China's military of cyberattacks. It was seen as a move to shame the Chinese government into clamping down on the hackers who have allegedly stolen clinical trial results and other data. The hacks are still happening though.

Private security firm Mandiant has uncovered a fresh wave of attacks linked to a group it believes is associated with the Chinese military, The New York Times reports. The new hacking campaign comes three months after a detailed public Mandiant report seemed to silence the group. Earlier this month a Pentagon report to Congress also linked the Chinese military to cyberattacks. The cessation of attacks that followed these events now looks like a temporary lull.

Mandiant has declined to reveal the targets of the latest set of attacks, but said many of the victims had been hacked before. This means the clinical research sector could be among the recent targets. The first record Mandiant has of the group hacking into scientific research dates back to 2009. It has since seen another nine scientific research organizations targetted by the hackers. Scientific research encompasses more than just trial results, but Mandiant has confirmed some of its 100 clients have had clinical data stolen in the past. 

The theft of clinical trial results is potentially a huge problem for drugmakers. Intellectual property concerns limited the industry's involvement in certain countries for years, but these fears have lessened. While physical theft does happen--such as the WuXi PharmaTech ($WX) employee who stole Merck ($MRK) compounds--the industry clearly feels the benefits of globalizing trials and research offset the risks. But if computer systems are vulnerable, the physical location of a site will offer no protection. These worries are likely to intensify as companies consider switching to cloud-based systems.

- here's the NYT article

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