Canada’s research on the response to the COVID-19 pandemic is at an “elevated level of risk” for state-sponsored hacking and espionage, say the country’s two main spy agencies

The joint statement from the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) follows a warning from U.S. intelligence agencies who have accused China-backed hackers of attempting to steal American research on vaccines, treatments and testing related to the novel coronavirus.

Unlike the American warning, the Canadian statement does not identify which state actors are targeting Canadian research institutions or if there have been any specific attacks.

“COVID-19 has had a profound impact on our country and the world. This uncertain environment is ripe for exploitation by threat actors seeking to advance their own interests,” reads the statement from CSEC and CSIS.

“It is near certain that state-sponsored actors have shifted their focus during the pandemic and that Canadian intellectual property represents a valuable target.”

Story continues below advertisement

CSIS said there is “an increased risk of foreign interference and espionage due to the extraordinary effort of our businesses and research centres.”

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

“As a result,