The Race for a COVID-19 Vaccine: Another Opportunity for Chinese IP Theft, Another Reason to Protect Our Critical Data with Quantum Keys

The race is on to develop a vaccine for COVID-19. With more than 70 potential vaccines currently in the works, though, it is unlikely one will be available before the end of 2020. Even as states and countries begin lifting restrictions, the need for a vaccine is the key to our return to normalcy – our lives depend on it, and our economies depend on it. 

The Chinese are in the same race to find a vaccine and — not surprisingly — are already engaging in Intellectual Property theft to win the race. These latest actions on the part of China only reinforce the need to protect our trade secrets with the highest level of security we can provide — namely, quantum keys.  

The Latest Case of Chinese IP Theft

The Department of Homeland Security and FBI recently called out the Chinese government for trying to steal scientific research related to a COVID-19 vaccine. In fact, the FBI and CISA released a public service announcement on May 13, 2020 warning of the Chinese actions, specifically that Chinese-affiliated entities are attempting to steal valuable information from organizations conducting COVID-19-related research in order to gain access to information on vaccines and testing. 

Same Problem, New Scenario

Although COVID-19-related research is a new target, the Chinese tactics remain the same.

Chinese IP theft has been a sticking point between the U.S. and China for a long time. Indeed, the issue is at the heart of the new U.S-China Trade Deal currently in the works because China is reticent to put any limits on its ability to steal trade secrets for its own benefit. 

According to a CNBC CFO survey, one out of five companies have been victims of Chinese IP theft in the last year, costing businesses as much as $600 billion per year. Thirty percent of those surveyed said Chinese entities have stolen from them in the past ten years. Companies such as IBM, Apple, GE are just some examples of cases where a Chinese employee was charged or indicted with stealing trade secrets, but smaller companies are at risk too. 

 Academic institutions, where a good portion of scientific-related research is taking place, need to be particularly careful because they do not typically have the same security measures in place that a private organization or a military/defense-related organization might have. The FBI and CISA are urging all organizations conducting scientific research to develop a vaccine to maintain the highest levels of cybersecurity. Awareness of the threat needs to stretch across the spectrum of academia, government, and private industry alike so we can protect our intellectual property. 

Accentuating the Need for Quantum Keys

This latest case of Chinese attempts to steal our research serves as yet another example of why organizations – particularly agencies dealing with highly sensitive data — need to start protecting their critical data and intellectual property with the highest, most secure form of protection available. Even if our secrets are protected with encryption now, they won’t be safe when quantum computers come online. 

Quantum Xchange has the ability to implement the right quantum-safe protections these organizations need today and in the post-quantum era. 


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