Sci-tech

US charges five Chinese with hacking 100 companies worldwide

US charges five Chinese with hacking 100 companies worldwide”

He further alleged that one of the Chinese defendants had boasted to a colleague that he was "very close" to China's Ministry of State Security and would be protected "unless something very big happens". In February, the US charged four members of China's People's Liberation Army with the intrusion that led to the Equifax data breach and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) regularly publishes details of tools and malware used by attackers affiliated with the Chinese government.

The indictments are part of a broader effort by the Trump administration to call out cybercrimes by China amid strained tensions between the two nations. Said Mr Rosen: "Some of these criminal actors believed their association with the PRC provided them free licence to hack and steal across the globe".

Rosen told reporters that as an additional method of making-money, several of the Chinese defendants compromised the networks of video game companies worldwide - a billion-dollar industry - and defrauded them of in-game resources.

It's one of the largest hacking campaigns to be prosecuted in the USA to date, and the defendants' alleged methods laid out in the complaint reveal the prominence of so-called supply chain attacks that target software providers in order to hack their customers.

Deputy US Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen on September 16 announced three indictments have been unsealed in the matter that collectively charge five Chinese nationals with computer hacking and charge two Malaysian nationals for helping some of those hackers target victims and sell the fruits of their crime. For some games, it is simpler to buy a new player profile using such currency already in the account.

Prominent electronic communications services and telecommunications providers in the US, Singapore and elsewhere were also compromised, they said.

The department said the attacks affected more than a hundred companies, including IT or communications firms and video game developers, in the United States, Japan, Brazil and Thailand among others.

As uncovered previously in multiple reports, the APT41 group specializes in software supply-chain attacks, where hackers steal proprietary "source code, software code signing certificates, customer account data, and valuable business information", and distribute digitally signed malicious versions of the software to infect systems at targeted organizations. These intrusions also facilitated the defendants' other criminal schemes, including ransomware and "crypto-jacking" schemes, the latter of which refers to the group's unauthorised use of victim computers to "mine" cryptocurrency.

Читайте также: 'Poisoned' Putin critic Navalny shares hospital photo of himself

The later indicted three Chinese hackers are associated with a network security company Chengdu 404 Network Technology, operated as a front by the People's Republic of China.

China pushed back on this accusation and said, "Such allegations are pure slander".

But some of the conduct was clearly profit driven, officials said.

The indictment against Wong and Ling charges the defendants with 23 counts of similar charges, but since they are also involved in false registration of domain names, it would increase the maximum sentence of imprisonment for money laundering to 27 years.

APT41 is the earliest known MSS contractor group, industry analysts say. It was accused in a report a year ago by the FireEye cybersecurity firm of carrying out state-sponsored and financially motivated operations.

"In situations such as this, a bargain can be reached between the security service and the operators wherein the operators enjoy protection in return for offering high-end talent to the service" while allowing the government to deny involvement, he said.

The group has consistently expanded its targeting scope as well as its tool suite while shifting from criminally focused operations to state-sponsored, targeted intrusions that often align with Chinese Communist Party objectives, said Adam Meyers, senior vice president of intelligence at the cyber firm CrowdStrike.

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