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US Charges Hackers At Chinese Cybersecurity Firm For Stealing Trade Secrets

A soldier from honour guards holds a red flag during a welcoming ceremony for Vietnam's President Tran Dai Quang (not pictured) outside the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, China May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Jason LeeA soldier from honour guards holds a red flag during a welcoming ceremony for Vietnam's President Tran Dai Quang (not pictured) outside the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, China May 11, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee

The U.S. indicted three Chinese employees on Monday of a Chinese cybersecurity firm for a string of cyber crimes against businesses operating in the U.S.

Wu Yingzhuo, Dong Hao, and Xia Lei were charged with computer hacking, theft of trade secrets, conspiracy and identity theft. The three Chinese nationals, owners, employees, and associates at the China-based cybersecurity firm Guangzhou Bo Yu Information Technology Company Limited, allegedly carried out attacks against businesses in the financial, engineering, and technology sectors from 2011 to 2017.

“Defendants Wu, Dong and Xia launched coordinated and targeted cyber intrusions against businesses operating in the United States,” Acting U.S. Attorney Soo C. Song for the Western District of Pennsylvania said in a statement, adding, “These conspirators masked their criminal conspiracy by exploiting unwitting computers, called ‘hop points,’ conducting ‘spearphish’ email campaigns to gain unauthorized access to corporate computers, and deploying malicious code to infiltrate the victim computer networks.” Wu, Dong, and Xia targeted Moody’s Analytics, Siemens AG, and Trimble, Inc. respectively.

The three defendants face eight counts of conspiring to commit computer fraud and abuse, conspiring to commit trade secret theft, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft. The maximum penalties for these crimes range from two years to 20. As these are charges, the three Chinese nationals have not yet been found guilty. It is unclear if the activities the suspects are charged with carrying out were orchestrated by Beijing or carried out independently.

The U.S. is currently investigating Chinese theft of intellectual property, which Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross calls an attack on “American genius.” The theft of American innovation is believed to cost the country around $600 billion a year. The crimes allegedly committed by the three Chinese nationals with the Chinese cybersecurity firm cost the victims thousands of dollars.

“On the secret battlefield without gunpowder, China needs special agents to gather secrets from the U.S.,” the nationalist Chinese tabloid The Global Times wrote in an article last year praising a Chinese man charged with criminal espionage for his service to the country.

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Ryan Pickrell
the authorRyan Pickrell
Holds a PhD in International Relations, fluent in Mandarin Chinese, reports on China and the Asia Pacific.

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