US Indicts Chinese Nationals Over Global Hack Campaign

Rod Rosenstein, Chris Wray announce indictment of Chinese hackers

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said the defendants "gave China's intelligence service access to sensitive business information".

During their campaign, the APT10 Group gained unauthorized access to the computers of over 45 technology companies and USA government agencies in at least 12 states, including California, Florida, New York, Texas and Virginia.

The DOJ's charges sheet against Zhu and Zhang says that APT 10 hacked 45 USA organizations to steal "hundreds of gigabytes" of information about technology in aviation, space and satellite, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, oil and gas exploration, communications, CPUs, and maritime.

The hackers targeted companies "in at least a dozen countries", including the U.S., Rosenstein said. "It is unacceptable that we continue to uncover cybercrime committed by China against other nations".

The move seriously violates the basic norms governing global relations, seriously damages China-US cooperation and is of a very bad nature, she said. "China will find it hard to pretend that it is not responsible for these actions".

Dr Robert Williams, executive director of Yale Law School's Paul Tsai China Centre, said the allegations added considerably to a growing body of evidence that China had not dialled back its commercial cyber espionage in the way USA officials had hoped it would after the 2015 Obama-Xi agreement.

"These activities must stop".

Given the high confidence assessment and the broader context, the United Kingdom government has made the judgement that the Chinese ministry of state security was responsible, the official said.

Zhang Shilong and Zhu Hua, also known as "Godkiller", worked with an extensive network of Chinese hackers to infiltrate dozens of government agencies, private companies including oil and gas firms, NASA and the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of NY, according to a three-count indictment.

The group is said to have engaged in multiple hacking campaigns into computer systems around the world since at least as early as 2006, two of which were specifically referred to in the indictment.

The men have been accused of being part of a hacking group known as Advanced Persistent Threat 10, or APT10.

On Thursday, the USA charged two Chinese citizens for allegedly carrying out extensive cyber espionage on behalf of Beijing.

Those cases involved both hacking and recruiting insiders to steal data and IT system passwords.

This approach "ensures evidence becomes public" and "tells Beijing that the United States has some visibility into what the government's hackers are doing".

The hackers, officials say, work under the direction of China's Ministry of State Security - one of the country's intelligence organisations.

"The US move is vicious in nature, severely violating the basic norms governing global relations and damaging cooperation between the two countries", she said.

The accusations of cyber espionage against China came amid mounting tensions between Beijing and Washington due to the arrest of the chief financial officer of Chinese telecom giant Huawei in Vancouver on December 1.

China protested Friday to the U.S. representations in Beijing over the Department of Justice's accusations against two nationals for allegedly hacking into intellectual property files and state and business secrets.

USA and British authorities on Thursday also condemned China for violating 2015 agreements to curb cyber espionage for business purposes, slamming Chinese efforts to steal other countries' trade secrets and technologies and to compromise government computers.

China described those claims as "purely made out of thin air", warning other countries to "stop deliberate defamation of China, so as not to damage. bilateral relations".

APT 10 hacks against MSPs allowed Chinese spies to indirectly gain access to confidential data of numerous companies that are clients of the MSPs.

The US plans to charge her with fraud related to sanctions-breaking business dealings with Iran.

The Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) says it has established links between the Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS) and a "global campaign" of cyber theft. The ministry also stressed that China had never participated in or supported any stealing of commercial secrets, and added that it had lodged "stern representations" with Washington.

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