A post from Hainan Xiandun featured. The ad, on a Sichuan University computer science recruitment board since 2018, brags that Xiandun has “received a substantial amount of business dealing with government secrets”.
The company, based in Hainan’s capital Haikou, paid a monthly salary of $1,200 to $3,000 — a steady middle-class salary for Chinese tech workers fresh out of college — with bonuses of up to $15,000. . Xiandun’s ad listed an email address used by other companies looking for cybersecurity experts and linguists, indicating they were part of the network.
China’s hacking groups are increasingly “sharing malware, exploits, and coordinating their efforts,” the “Intrusive Truth” moderators wrote in an email. The executives did not disclose their identities, because of the sensitive nature of their work.
Xiandun’s registered address is the library of Hainan University. Its phone number matches that of a computer science professor and People’s Liberation Army veteran who runs a website that provides payments to students with new ideas for password cracking. The professor has not been charged.
Other profiles and phone numbers led the blog authors to an email address and a frequent flyer account owned by Ding Xiaoyang, one of the company’s managers.
The indictment asserts that Mr. Ding was a state security officer who ran the hacker group working in Hainan Xiandun. It included details the blog could not find, such as an award Mr. Ding received from the Ministry of State Security for young leaders in the organization.
Mr. Ding and others named in the indictment could not be contacted.
Matthew Brazil, a former China expert with the Department of Commerce’s Office of Export Enforcement, who co-wrote a study on Chinese espionage, said while it’s possible to track down now , but China’s state security apparatus may be learning to better conceal its tracks.
“The capabilities of Chinese services are uneven,” he said. “Their game is getting better, and in five or 10 years it will be a different story.”
Nicole Perlroth contribution report.