U.S. levies charges against 2 Chinese hackers

U.S. levies charges against 2 Chinese hackers

The Associated Press

The U.S. Justice Department has charged two Chinese citizens with carrying out an extensive hacking campaign to steal data from U.S. government agencies and corporations, including the U.S. Navy and the space agency NASA.

An indictment was unsealed in late December 2018 against Zhu Hua and Zhang Shillong, who prosecutors said were acting on behalf of China’s main intelligence agency.

Court papers filed in Manhattan federal court in the U.S. allege the hackers breached the computers of more than 45 entities in 12 states. The victims were in a variety of industries from aviation and space to pharmaceutical technology.

Prosecutors charge that the hackers were able to steal “hundreds of gigabytes” of data. (Pictured: Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, with FBI Director Christopher Wray, speaks during a news conference at the Department of Justice charging two Chinese citizens with carrying out an extensive hacking campaign to steal data from U.S. companies.)

Court papers say they hacked computer service providers to gain access to the networks of businesses and governments to steal intellectual property and business data.

The indictment comes as the United States and other nations are working on a joint statement that condemns the People’s Republic of China (PRC) for actions of theft like the one alleged here. Officials from Britain, Japan, Canada, Germany and Australia are signatories, according to The New York Timesnewspaper.

A week before the indictment details were made public, officials from the Justice Department, the FBI and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security testified to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee that the PRC is working to steal trade secrets and intellectual property from U.S. companies to harm America’s economy and further its own development.

Chinese espionage efforts have become “the most severe counterintelligence threat facing our country today,” Bill Priestap, the assistant director of the FBI’s counterintelligence division, told the committee.

In the past several months, the Justice Department has filed charges against several Chinese intelligence officials and hackers. A case filed in October 2018 marked the first time that a PRC Ministry of State Security officer was extradited to the United States to stand trial.