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Photo: Anton Vergun/TASS via Getty Images

Symantec is tracking what it believes to be a longstanding corporate espionage hacking effort against medical manufacturers.

The details: Based on the targets — all manufacturers of medical supplies or companies that served them — and the inconsistent quality of the hackers' work, Symantec believes this is private sector work beneath the level of intelligence agency. The cybersecurity firm detailed the campaign it has rubbed "Orangeworm" in a report released Monday.

"It's not often we come across this kind of campaign being used for corporate espionage," Vikram Thakur, Symantec technical director, told Axios. Typically, targeted attacks striking a low enough volume of victims are the work of government actors.

Think pharmaceuticals, not insurance: Thakur cautions that most people's first assumption about hackers targeting health care firms is wrong — they do not appear to be targeting accounts and personal information. Instead, they appear to be looking for manufacturing techniques and intellectual property.

The impact: In 2018, the group has already attacked at least a couple of dozen targets. Symantec tracked nearly 100 attacks since 2015.

The intrigue: The group has designed hard-to-capture hacking tools resistant to being scooped up for analysis, leaving Symantec with little to go on in as it tries to profile the attacker. Symantec does not know how the hackers first breach the system.

  • Though Symantec hasn't been able to retrieve all the tools used in the attack, the attackers did a substandard job hiding the fact they had been in the system. "The threat may be hard to catch, but it's noisy, " Thakur said.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

In photos: The Biden and Harris inauguration

President Biden and first lady Jill Biden watch a fireworks show on the National Mall from the Truman Balcony at the White House on Wednesday night. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Biden signed his first executive orders into law from the Oval Office on Wednesday evening after walking in a brief inaugural parade to the White House with First Lady Jill Biden and members of their family. He was inaugurated with Vice President Kamala Harris at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday morning.

Why it matters: Many of Biden's day one actions immediately reverse key Trump administration policies, including rejoining the Paris Agreement and the World Health Organization, launching a racial equity initiative and reversing the Muslim travel ban.

Republicans pledge to set aside differences and work with Biden

President Biden speaks to Sen. Mitch McConnell after being sworn in at the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Several Republicans praised President Biden's calls for unity during his inaugural address on Wednesday and pledged to work together for the benefit of the American people.

Why it matters: The Democrats only have a slim majority in the Senate and Biden will likely need to work with the GOP to pass his legislative agenda.

The Biden protection plan

Joe Biden announces his first run for the presidency in June 1987. Photo: Howard L. Sachs/CNP/Getty Images

The Joe Biden who became the 46th president on Wednesday isn't the same blabbermouth who failed in 1988 and 2008.

Why it matters: Biden now heeds guidance about staying on task with speeches and no longer worries a gaffe or two will cost him an election. His staff also limits the places where he speaks freely and off the cuff. This Biden protective bubble will only tighten in the months ahead, aides tell Axios.