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According to Israeli cybersecurity company Checkpoint Software Technologies, attacks on laboratories developing a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2 have recently increased, with cybercriminals targeting not only Israel, but other countries. The firm said 20,000 attacks related to the coronavirus are reported every day.

Israeli research centers working on a vaccine for the novel coronavirus were among the targets of a large-scale cyber attack on Israel, the nation's Channel 12 reported without citing its sources and elaborating on how many institutes were affected. According to the channel, hackers wanted to sabotage the development of the vaccine, but not steal information.

The attacks on research centres were part of a large-scale cyber assault on Israel that occurred on 21 May and targeted hundreds and some Hebrew-language media said even thousands of websites of political groups, organisations, big companies, and individuals. The homepages of the websites featured an anti-Israel video showing Israeli cities being bombed.

The video started with threatening messages. The first, in English, read: "Be ready for a big surprise", another one written in Hebrew read: "The countdown of Israel's destruction began a long time ago".

Israeli cyber security company Checkpoint Software Technologies said the attack was conducted by nine hackers that are likely to be connected to Turkey, North Africa, and the Gaza Strip. "This doesn't mean there aren't more", said Lotem Finkelstein, head of the Cyber Intelligence Department at Checkpoint Software Technologies, adding that there is no indication that Iran was behind the attack.

That same day a second wave of cyber attacks hit the country's factories with hackers demanding an exhorbitant ransom in order for factories to get their information. Checkpoint Software Technologies said it is unclear whether the second wave of attacks was conducted by the same group.

Despite the number of websites affected estimated at being in the hundreds or even thousands, Israel's National Cyber Directorate said the scale of attack was relatively small and that no damage had been done to state infrastructure.