The Justice Department on Monday accused three Chinese state security officials of coordinating an extensive hacking campaign to steal sensitive and confidential information from government organisations, universities and corporations. around the world, including research related to autonomous vehicles, genetic sequencing technology, and infectious diseases such as the Ebola Virus.
The announcement comes as the White House formally accuses the Chinese government of breaching Microsoft’s email system and paying criminal groups to extort companies millions of dollars in malware attacks. blackmail, showing the Biden administration’s determination to provoke Beijing.
In an indictment that has been sealed since May, the Justice Department accused officials in the provincial foreign intelligence bureau, Hainan Province’s Ministry of State Security, of creating a fake information security company. which they use as a front for a large-scale hacking operation.
According to the indictment, officers Ding Xiaoyang, Cheng Qingmin and Zhu Yunmin used a front company to manage a group of computer hackers and linguists who infiltrated computer systems around the world to do business. favor China and conceal Beijing’s role in the thefts. One of the hackers, Wu Shurong, is accused of creating malware used to break into foreign computer systems.
According to the court, between 2011 and 2018, Chinese intelligence officers targeted companies, universities and government agencies in the United States, Austria, Cambodia, Canada, Germany, Indonesia, and Malaysia. , Norway, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. documents. The charges underscore China’s willingness to explicitly ignore a 2015 agreement with the United States to curb computer theft for commercial gain.
“The breadth and duration of campaigns against China, including these targeting dozens of countries in areas ranging from healthcare and biomedical research to aviation and defense, reminds reminds us that no country or industry is safe,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco said in a statement.
According to the indictment, staff and professors at Chinese universities aided this operation by identifying and recruiting hackers and linguists. HR at a university runs the company’s payroll and benefits.
The intelligence officers are accused of targeting the aviation, defense, education, government, healthcare, biopharmaceutical and maritime industries.
Some of the thefts were identified in Trump administration charges against hackers linked to China’s main intelligence agency.
While it is unlikely that all defendants will be tried in US courts, national security officials have long said it is important to publicly accuse Chinese officials of conduct. wrongdoing as part of a broader effort to hold Beijing accountable.