U.S. accuses hackers of stealing trade secrets, vaccine data for China
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The U.S. Justice Department is accusing China of working with hackers to steal trade secrets and target U.S. companies working on a coronavirus vaccine.
Marketplace’s Nancy Marshall-Genzer has the latest on this story. The follow is an edited transcript of her conversation with Marketplace’s Sabri Ben-Achour.
Sabri Ben-Achour: Nancy, the U.S. is pointing the finger at two hackers in particular. What do we know about them?
Nancy Marshall-Genzer: The Justice Department indictment says there were two hackers, both in China. It says they worked with the Chinese government to steal millions of dollars worth of trade secrets and intellectual property from companies around the world. Prosecutors say the hackers targeted U.S. defense and health care companies, including at least four American firms working on coronavirus testing and treatment.
Ben-Achour: And how successful were these hackers?
Marshall-Genzer: The indictment doesn’t say. But the Justice Department says the hack could set back U.S. vaccine research or slow it down. That’s because the targeted companies now have to secure their research. They also have to be sure their data wasn’t corrupted by the hackers.
Ben-Achour: And how closely were the hackers connected to the Chinese government?
Marshall-Genzer: The Justice Department says they got help and guidance from Chinese intelligence agencies and also hacked some democracy activists in Hong Kong.
Ben-Achour: What does China have to say about this?
Marshall-Genzer: The Chinese embassy wouldn’t comment about it directly, instead pointing to remarks from a foreign ministry spokeswoman. She says the Chinese government opposes cyberattacks, and allegations that China is using hackers to steal U.S. research are “absurd.”
COVID-19 Economy FAQs
Millions of Americans are unemployed, but businesses say they are having trouble hiring. Why?
This economic crisis is unusual compared to traditional recessions, according to Daniel Zhao, senior economist with Glassdoor. “Many workers are still sitting out of the labor force because of health concerns or child care needs, and that makes it tough to find workers regardless of what you’re doing with wages or benefits,” Zhao said. “An extra dollar an hour isn’t going to make a cashier with preexisting conditions feel that it’s safe to return to work.” This can be seen in the restaurant industry: Some workers have quit or are reluctant to apply because of COVID-19 concerns, low pay, meager benefits and the stress that comes with a fast-paced, demanding job. Restaurants have been willing to offer signing bonuses and temporary wage increases. One McDonald’s is even paying people $50 just to interview.
Could waiving patents increase the global supply of COVID-19 vaccines?
India and South Africa have introduced a proposal to temporarily suspend patents on COVID-19 vaccines. Backers of the plan say it would increase the supply of vaccines around the world by allowing more countries to produce them. Skeptics say it’s not that simple. There’s now enough supply in the U.S that any adult who wants a shot should be able to get one soon. That reality is years away for most other countries. More than 100 countries have backed the proposal to temporarily waive COVID-19 vaccine patents. The U.S isn’t one of them, but the White House has said it’s considering the idea.
Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?
As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy continues reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.
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