$53 Million Cash Support Proposed to Improve Cybersecurity and Secure COVID-19 Research Data

There is a substantial weight of proof that indicate nation-state hacking groups are focusing on organizations doing COVID-19 research and developing the vaccine to get information to increase the research programs in their particular nations.

Security institutions in Canada, the United States, and United Kingdom have lately cautioned that there’s solid proof that state-sponsored hacking groups associated to China, Russia, and Iran are launching attacks to get COVID-19 research information. Early this month the United States Department of Justice charged two Chinese nationals for hacking into U.S. agencies’ networks in the last 10 years, with the latest hacks done to get COVID-19 vaccine research information.

Director Christopher Krebs of CISA stated this week that institutions researching on vaccines are prone to attack, considering the stress on their hardware, software, and services because of more teleworking as a consequence of the pandemic. The latest study done by BitSight on biomedical firms showed a lot of unaddressed vulnerabilities that hackers could remotely exploit to access systems and sensitive research information.

To fight the hackers, Republican Senators recommended a $53 million cash investment for the DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to assist in its efforts to remediate vulnerabilities and improve Federal network security to secure agencies engaged in the creation of a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. The Senate Committee on Appropriations introduced the COVID-19 relief legislation this week, with the funds supplied besides the $9.1 million awarded to CISA through President Trump’s CARES Act economic stimulus package.

The total new relief that will be available is $306 billion, with a substantial percentage of the funds focused on speeding up testing and vaccine creation and making sure that schools could reopen in the shortest time.

The Department of Energy Office of Science proposed a $307.3 million support for theCOVID-19 research and vaccine creation and to meet the needs for IT and cybersecurity and a $16 billion support for state testing, contact tracing, and monitoring.

A number of Democrat Senators, such as Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Mark Warner, (D-VA), Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) wrote to Senate and Concessional leaders encouraging them to also support privacy protection of health information gathered in connection with COVID-19. Without proper privacy protections, a lot of Americans might not connect with contact tracers and support efforts to gather important data thus hampering the fight against COVID-19. The Senators mentioned in the letter a survey that showed 84% of people in America are concerned about the health information collection by the government.

The Public Health Emergency Privacy Act proposed in May included privacy protections to reinforce public trust in testing and contact tracing initiatives. The Democrat Senators would like to include those privacy protections in the new COVID-19 relief law. Assuring the Americans that their sensitive health information won’t be misused will increase the Americans’ confidence as they take part in COVID screening initiatives, thus achieving the common mission of limiting and getting rid of COVID-19.