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Prosecutors say Chinese cyber firm was front for hackers

Prosecutors say Chinese cyber firm was front for hackers

A USA jury in Pittsburgh has indicted three people affiliated with a Chinese cybersecurity firm on computer fraud charges, saying they hacked into the networks of Siemens AG, Trimble Inc and Moodys Analytics.

The three are not in custody and it is not clear if they are still in China. The U.S. believes that they systematically targeted major worldwide corporations like Moody's Analytics, Siemens, and the Global Positioning System maker, Trimble.

According to the DoJ, the hackers conducted their operations with the primary goal of copying or stealing confidential data from affected computers, as well as sensitive victim employee information such as usernames and passwords. However, the three accused have managed to avoid arrest, and authorities are unsure of their whereabouts.

The indictment was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania in mid-September and unsealed on Monday.

The three hackers, Chinese nationals Wu Yingzhuo, Dong Hao, and Xia Lei, all worked for a Chinese cyber security firm called Boyusec that the Pentagon has linked to the Ministry of State Security, the civilian intelligence service.

According to the US Department of Justice, the three Chinese defendants conspired to hack into computers of private corporate entities to steal sensitive documents.

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Reuters quoted US Special Attorney in Pittsburgh, Soo C. Song, as saying that arrest warrants had been issued for the three accused. But a Justice Department spokesman told Cyberscoop News that it reached out to the Chinese government during the October 3 Law Enforcement and Cybersecurity Dialogue in Washington, seeking assistance, but "received no meaningful response".

This indictment aside, cybersecurity relations between the US and China have arguably improved in recent years following a peak in tensions in 2014. This is certainly not the first time the US and China have butted heads on the issue.

Numerous spear-phishing emails the attackers allegedly used were created to socially engineer - trick - specific recipients into opening malicious attachments or visiting links that led to sites hosting malware.

That malware has been implicated in the 2014 hack attack on the United States federal Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

A Chinese internet security firm that researchers say is behind sophisticated attacks on Western energy and defense companies disbanded this month amid USA accusations that some of its shareholders were involved in hacking and theft of trade secrets.


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