U.S. Charges China With Cyber-Spying on American Firms

Pete Williams
NBC News: May 19, 2014

The Justice Department filed criminal charges against five hackers in the Chinese military Monday, accusing them of stealing American trade secrets through cyber-espionage.

The efforts were directed at six American victim companies in the nuclear power, metals and solar products industries: Westinghouse Electric, U.S. subsidiaries of SolarWorld AG, U.S. Steel, Allegheny Technologies and Alcoa. The United Steel Workers union was also targeted.

“This is a case alleging economic espionage by members of the Chinese military and represents the first-ever charges against a state actor for this type of hacking,” Attorney General Eric Holder said.
The FBI tracked the computer attacks to Unit 61398 of the Third Department of the People’s Liberation Army, headquartered in a building in Shanghai, officials said.

Authorities said what amounted to “21st century burglary” benefited the Chinese competitors of the U.S. victims, including state-run enterprises, and led to the loss of American jobs.

As one example, the hackers stole cost, pricing and strategy information from SolarWorld at the very time the company was losing market share to Chinese rivals, officials said.

“These victims are tired of being raided,” said Assistant Attorney General John Carlin.

He said that in the past, when the U.S. has complained about the hacking to China, “they repsonded by publicly challenging us to provide hard evidence of their hacking that could cstand up in court.

“Well, today we are,” Carlin said.

It’s unclear how the hackers would be brought to justice in the United States. The feds also have charged the makers of the malicious software the Chinese allegedly used to steal information from the American firms.

(read the full article at NBC News)

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