A Chinese artificial intelligence firm has become the latest victim of Covid-19 cyberattacks, as hackers look to profit off stolen medical data and research in the midst of the pandemic.

Why it matters: The outbreak has led to a surge in illicit cyber activity, with hackers targeting individuals, companies, and governments.

  • Korean and Vietnamese hackers have launched cyberattacks against China and its government in what appears to be an effort to gain intelligence to guide their own Covid-19 responses.
  • Targeted attacks through coronavirus-themed emails have increased 667% worldwide, according to US-based security firm Baracuda.

Details: Huiying Medical, a Beijing-based company developing AI-based tools to diagnose Covid-19 infections, had its source code and experimental data stolen, researchers from US-based cybersecurity company Cyble said over the weekend.

  • “Credible threat actor THE0TIME” claims to have breached Huiying’s systems and is selling the data on the dark web for 4 BTC (around $30,800), the researchers said.
  • The dump includes user data, source code, and Covid-19 experiment information.
  • Using images from CT scans, Huiying’s AI system gives healthcare workers a probability that a patient is infected with Covid-19.
  • Huiying has cooperated with 800 hospitals around China, including Peking Union Medical College Hospital, Chinese media Leiphone reported.
  • Huiying has partnered with smartphone and telecommunications giant Huawei to provide two hospitals in Ecuador with AI-based diagnosis tools for Covid-19, state media reported.

Context: Hackers have capitalized on growing Covid-19 fears around the world as a means to get their hands on sensitive corporate information and personal data.

  • Chinese cybersecurity company Qihoo 360 said in February that South Asian attackers used coronavirus-themed emails as bait to launch attacks on organizations “on the frontline” of fighting the outbreak in China.
  • Cyble previously found 500,000 Zoom accounts for sale on hacker forums and the dark web. Earlier this month, the researchers also identified a trove of nearly 270 million Facebook accounts up for sale for €500 (around $540).

Christopher Udemans is TechNode's former Shanghai-based data and graphics reporter. He covered Chinese artificial intelligence, mobility, cleantech, and cybersecurity.