USA indicts Chinese govt hackers over attacks in 12 countries

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Two alleged Chinese hackers carried out an extensive campaign on behalf of Beijing's main intelligence agency to steal trade secrets and other information from USA government agencies and "a who's who" of major corporations in America and almost a dozen other nations, United States officials say.

The private companies infiltrated by the group are unnamed, which is common in criminal complaints, but include those involved in industrial factory automation, radar technology, oil exploration, IT services, pharmaceutical manufacturing, and computer processor technology. They're also said to have stolen sensitive data including names, Social Security numbers, and contact information for more than 100,000 Navy personnel, as well as data from the NASA Goddard Space Center, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Court papers filed in Manhattan Federal Court in New York City allege the hackers were able to breach the computers of more than 45 companies and agencies in a dozen countries. And because countries like Russian Federation and China are not likely to extradite their own intelligence officers, the indictments could be viewed as empty threats.

They are accused of stealing US trade secrets and a host of other sensitive information on behalf of Beijing's main intelligence agency, Associated Press explained.

"This activity is counter to the commitment all APEC economies, including China, made in November 2016", said New Zealand's Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB).

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This campaign is one of the most significant and widespread cyber intrusions against the United Kingdom and allies uncovered to date, targeting trade secrets and economies around the world.

More recently, beginning in or about 2014, APT10 engaged in an intrusion campaign to obtain unauthorised access to the computer networks of managed service providers (MSPs) for businesses and governments around the world.

All statements are in regards to the supposed involvement of the Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS) in supporting the activity of a hacking group known as APT10.

Mr MacGibbon said companies that believed they may be the target of attacks could contact ACSC for advice. Relations with China remain tense, as the Trump administration looks to reach a firm agreement with Chinese officials on trade and tariffs.

Australia's top cyber-security official Alastair MacGibbon said Western security agencies had exposed an "audacious" global campaign to steal commercial secrets by targeting the IT companies that provide services to many Australian business.

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In a move sure to further enrage China, the United States has indicted two more Chinese citizens for cyberespionage.

"It is unacceptable that we continue to uncover cybercrime committed by China against other nations", Rosenstein said. They faces charges of conspiracy to commit computer intrusions, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated theft.

The campaign was focused on stealing the intellectual property and commercial data of a number of service providers, some of which operate in New Zealand, GCSB Director-General Andrew Hampton said.

The defendants were charged with spying on some of the world's largest companies by hacking into technology firms to which they outsource email, storage and other computing tasks, starting in 2014.

China is accusing the US of "fabricating facts" in the indictment of two Chinese citizens accused of cyber espionage. Instead, the indictment is meant to send a message to China about how seriously the United States takes such hacking cases.

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