United States authorities warned Wednesday that Chinese hackers were attempting to steal COVID-19 (coronavirus) data on treatments and vaccines, adding fuel to Washington’s war with Beijing over the pandemic.
The FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) said organisations researching COVID-19 were at risk of “targeting and network compromise by the People’s Republic of China.”
They warned that Chinese government-affiliated cyber actors and others were attempting to obtain “valuable intellectual property and public health data related to vaccines, treatments, and testing from networks and personnel affiliated with COVID-19-related research.”
“China’s efforts to target these sectors pose a significant threat to our nation’s response to COVID-19,” they said.
The two organizations gave no evidence or examples to support the allegation.
But the warning added to the growing battle between the superpowers over the outbreak that began in China and has killed at least 293,000 worldwide, and more than 83,000 in the United States.
President Donald Trump has accused China of hiding the origins of the virus and not cooperating with the United States and other countries in efforts to research and fight the disease.
Asked on Monday about reports that the US believed Chinese hackers were targeting US vaccine research, Trump replied: “What else is new with China? What else is new? Tell me. I’m not happy with China.”
– Spies, academics targeted –
The warning Wednesday also underscored that Washington believes China has continued broad efforts to obtain US commercial and technology secrets by any means possible, under President Xi Jinping’s drive to make his country a technological leader this decade.
In February the US Justice Department indicted four Chinese army personnel suspected of hacking the massive database of credit rating agency Equifax, giving them the personal data of 145 million Americans.
The US recently also charged a number of academics with crimes relating to that alleged effort, both American and Chinese nationals.
On Monday the Department of Justice announced the arrest of University of Arkansas engineering professor Simon Saw-Teong Ang for hiding ties to the Chinese government and Chinese universities while he worked on projects funded by NASA.
The indictment said Ang was secretly part of the Xi-backed Thousand Talents program, which Washington says China uses to collect research from abroad.
Also on Monday Li Xiaojiang, a former professor at Emory University in Atlanta, admitted tax fraud in a case focused on his hidden earnings from China, also as a participant in the Thousand Talents program.
– Race for a vaccine –
Beijing has repeatedly denied the US accusations.
“We are leading the world in COVID-19 treatment and vaccine research. It is immoral to target China with rumors and slanders in the absence of any evidence,” Foreign Affairs ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Monday.
The FBI warning comes as dozens of companies, institutes and countries around the world are racing to develop vaccines to halt the spread of the coronavirus.
Many more groups are researching treatments for infected patients. Currently there is no proven therapy.
An effective vaccine could allow countries to fully reopen and potentially earn millions of dollars for its creators.
Most expert believe it will take more than a year to get a vaccine fully approved, and much longer to produce enough of it for even a fraction of the people on the globe.
The warning about Chinese hackers added to a series of alerts and reports accusing government-backed cyber operators in Iran, North Korea, Russia and China of malicious activity related to the coronavirus pandemic, from pumping out false news to targeting workers and scientists.
Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre and CISA said jointly last week they had detected large-scale “password spraying” tactics — hackers trying to access accounts through commonly used passwords — aimed at healthcare bodies and medical research organizations.
Nigeria Needs N1trn For Efficient Electricity Transmission – TCN
By Agency Report
The Transmission Company of Nigeria has said Nigeria requires nothing less than N1tn to effectively wheel electricity through the national grid.
The Executive Director, Transmission Service Provider, TCN, Victor Adewumi, said this at the 52nd Power Dialogue of the Nigeria Electricity Hub on which held online in Abuja on Wednesday.
He said TCN would require the sum to make the country’s power grid stable, adding that the $1.6bn which the transmission company was getting from international agencies would not be enough to stablilise the grid.
When asked to state how much would be needed to get the grid to transmit electricity effectively, Adewumi replied, “Simply put, TCN requires nothing less than N1tn to make the grid to be very stable.
“For the project that TCN is financing internally, relying on our IGR (Internally Generated Revenue) and the Federal Government budget system, TCN requires nothing less than N600bn. way that even the Federal Government can provide this kind of fund.”
He said investors were invited to come and fund some of the projects in TCN, as they would recoup their investments over time.
Adewumi said, “So the alternative way is to look at project financing, where those who have the money can come to TCN and finance probably the transmission lines and then look at the cost of energy to be wheeled on that line, spread it over a period of time and then get their money back.
He said, “But with the current kind of fund that is entering TCN, there is no way TCN can embark on that.
“This is because the Discos are not giving us the required money; we are getting less than 60 per cent of TCN tariff.
He added, “That is even after the Nigerian Electricity a Regulatory Commission forced them to do it.”
He, however, stated that the Discos would not receive all the blame as many power users were involved in electricity theft.
Nigeria Ranked 3rd Most Terrorised Country Worldwide
Nigeria has been ranked third most terrorised country in the world by the Global Terrorism Index (GTI) report, which stated that death attributed to Boko Haram in Nigeria increased by 25 percent from 2018 to 2019.
According to the report, “Nigeria had the second largest fall in total deaths, owing largely to a 72 percent reduction in fatalities attributed to Fulani extremists.
“Despite this decrease, the number of deaths attributed to Boko Haram increased by 25 percent from 2018 to 2019.
“Renewed activity by Boko Haram in Nigeria and neighbouring countries, including Cameroon, Chad and Niger, remains a substantial threat to the region.”
The report added that: “In 2019, Boko Haram carried out 11 suicide bombings causing 68 fatalities. Suicide bombings accounted for 6% of all terror-related incidents by Boko Haram in 2019, marking an 89% decline from their peak in 2017.
“Boko Haram was responsible for Nigeria’s deadliest terrorist attack in 2019 when assailants attacked a funeral in Badu, Borno State.
“At least 70 people were killed and 10 others were wounded in the attack and ensuing clash.
“The two main factions of Boko Haram, the Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP) and the followers of Abubakar Shekau, are both engaged in an insurgency campaign against the Nigerian government.
“Violence by the two main factions of Boko Haram have taken a large toll on the civilian population, particularly in the North-East, where continued attacks have internally displaced more than two million people and caused a further 240,000 Nigerian refugees to flee to neighbouring countries.”
FG Receives Repatriated 600-year-old Ife Artefact
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed received the repatriated Ife Terracotta from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, in the company of the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Nigeria, Harry van Dijk on Thursday in Abuja.
The Minister said the return of the stolen Ife Terracotta marked a milestone in Nigeria’s efforts at pursuing the return of the country ’s antiquities.
Segun Adeyemi, Special Assistant to Lai Mohammed, quoted the Minister as saying the government’s resolve to seek the repatriation of the nation’s timeless and priceless artifact was strengthened by the President Muhammadu Buhari’s marching order for Nigeria to tap into tourism and other fields, where Nigeria has comparative advantages, in order to generate income for the nation and secure jobs for our youths.
Mohammed said, “ It gives me profound joy to receive this very important antiquity, an Ife Terracotta , which is dated to be at least 600 years old . I am even more delighted that our efforts at pursuing the return of Nigerian antiquities , which we launched last November , have started yielding
“ One way of generating income for the country is if our cultural properties are exhibited around the world to a fee -paying audience, on the basis of proper agreement that acknowledges us as owners and confers the right benefits on us. But this is not possible for as long as most of them adorn the museums and private collections of others , who describe them as their properties. ”
While describing the handing over of the artifact as a new beginning, the Minister said apart from the pecuniary benefits , the priceless objects wrought by the nation ’s forebears are unifying factors among the diverse cultures in the country .
He said the Ife Terracotta was smuggled from Nigeria through Ghana to The Netherlands in 2019 with a forged document.
The Minister of Information and Culture said following the interception of the artifact by the Dutch Customs at Schiphol Airport in The Netherlands , Nigeria was invited to prove her case against the suspected smuggler , which the country did successfully , hence the return of the artifact .
“ Let me state here that Nigeria believes in joint international efforts to put a stop to illicit export and import of cultural goods . The issue of cultural property should not be a ground of rancour and discord among nations . That is if nations choose to tow the path which the Kingdom of The Netherlands has chosen by insisting on justice , fairness , and amity . ”
Onyeama thanked The Netherlands for the efficient and expeditious manner in which it deployed resources to identify , retrieve , and repatriate the Ife Terracotta to Nigeria .
Harry van Dijk said the return of the artifact is a fitting gift to mark the 50 th anniversary of the UNESCO Convention on the Prevention of Illicit Trafficking of Culture Heritage, of which Nigeria and The Netherlands are signatories .
The Director- General of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Prof . Abba Isa -Tijjani, has taken custody of the artifact for cleaning and treatment at the Conversation Laboratory before its eventual display to the public.