Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein listens as US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh attends the first day of his confirmation hearing in front of the US Senate on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, on September 4, 2018.
The Justice Department on Thursday announced charges against Chinese nationals accused of conducting a global hacking campaign.
- Prosecutors accused the hackers of operating in connection with the Chinese government.
- They are accused of stealing information from at least 45 U.S. tech companies and government agencies.
- Agencies targeted included the Department of Energy’s National Laboratory and NASA’s jet propulsion lab.
- The hackers also allegedly targeted defense industrial companies and managed service providers, as a way to gain entry to U.S. corporations and agencies through their suppliers.
- The two defendants, Zhu Hua and Zhang Shilong, were allegedly members of a group known as “Advanced Persistent Threat 10,” or “APT10.” The group was also known within the cybersecurity community as “Stone Panda,” “Red Apollo” and “POTASSIUM.”
- APT10 allegedly hacked into more than 40 computers connected to the U.S. Navy and stole confidential data, including “the personally identifiable information of more than 100,000 Navy personnel.”
- They’re also accused of hacking three communications technology companies, three companies “involved in manufacturing advanced electronic systems,” a maritime technology company, an oil and gas company, and at least 25 other technology-related companies.
- The group’s alleged technology theft campaign began as far back as 2006, the court filing shows, while a second campaign to steal intellectual property and other data from remote-access client-management companies began in 2014.
This story will be updated with further details.
The action comes as China and the U.S. are embroiled in volatile trade negotiations. The talks have already been complicated by Canadian authorities’ Dec. 1 arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, one of China’s largest companies, at the behest of the Justice Department.
The DOJ has indicted several alleged Chinese hackers in recent years. The actions are part of a “naming and shaming” campaign meant to hold Beijing accountable for alleged state-sponsored intellectual property theft from and espionage on corporations. However, the accused hackers are rarely extradited to the United States to face trial.
Later Thursday, the U.S. and more than a dozen allies are expected to condemn China for its alleged economic and technological malfeasance, The Washington Post reported.
U.S. allies including Britain, Germany, Australia, Canada and Japan will reportedly join that condemnation. Companies or institutions in each of those countries have claimed to be the victims of attempted cybersecurity breaches by Chinese hackers.
New sanctions addressing China’s alleged cyber-chicanery are also expected to come Thursday, according to the Post.