- The US charged 5 Chinese nations in a huge hacking scheme
- The US Justice Department claims these people to have hacked over 100 companies and institutions
- Even the Indian Government’s networks were impacted by the hack
5 Chinese nationals were charged by the US Justice Department in a case related to the hacking of more than 100 companies and institutions both in the United State of America and overseas, including multiple networks belonging to the Indian Government, and stealing valuable software data and business intelligence.
On Wednesday, the Deputy US Attorney General, Jeffrey Rosen, announced that three indictments have been unsealed in the matter which collectively charges the 5 Chinese citizens with computer hacking along with charging 2 Malaysian nationals for healing some of these hackers target their victims and also sell the data they acquired via their crimes.
The Malaysian citizens were arrested on Sunday and the Chinese nationals were declared fugitives, as per the statement released by the Justice Department.
Rosen has come forward and severely criticised the Chinese government.
The Deputy Attorney General, Rosen, said, “The Department of Justice has used every tool available to disrupt the illegal computer intrusions and cyberattacks by these Chinese citizens. Regrettably, the Chinese Communist Party has chosen a different path – of making China safe for cyber-criminals so long as they attack computers outside China and steal intellectual property helpful to China,”.
The indictment said, “In about 2019, the conspirators compromised Government of lndia websites, as well as virtual private networks and database servers supporting the Government of India. The conspirators used VPS PROVIDER servers to connect to an Open VPN network owned by the Government of India,”.
In the hacking attacks, the conspirators installed the “Cobalt Strike” malware on the Indian Government-protected computers, it added.
As per the charges, the computer intrusions impacted more than 100 companies, both, in the the United States of America as well as overseas.
The victims of these hacks ranged from companies dealing in computer hardware, social media, software development, telecommunications and even video games. Non-Profit organisations, think-tanks, foreign governments, universities, pro-democracy politicians and activists in Hong Kong were also targeted in these hacks.
Security researchers tracked these intrusions using labels such as “APT41,” “Barium,” “Wicked Panda,” Wicked Spider,” and Winnti”.
These cyber attacks facilitated the theft of source code, software code signing certificates, customer account data and even the valuable business information, according to the researchers.
The invasions also facilitated the defendants’ other criminal schemes which included ransomware and “crypto-jacking” schemes, the latter refers to the group’s unauthorised use of victim computers to mine cryptocurrency.
The hackers who hail from China also targeted government computers and networks of Vietnam and the United Kingdom. However, the hackers were unable to compromise the government computer networks in the UK.
The “racketeering” conspiracy related to the three defendants’ conducting the affairs of Chengdu 404 Network Technology (“Chengdu 404″), a Chinese Government company, through a pattern of racketeering activity involving computer intrusion offences which affected more than 100 companies, organisations, and individuals in the United States as well as overseas, including in Australia, Brazil, Chile, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam, the Justice Department said.
David Bowdich, Deputy Director of FBI said, “Today’s announcement demonstrates the ramifications faced by the hackers in China but it is also a reminder to those who continue to deploy malicious cyber tactics that we will utilise every tool we have to administer justice,”.
Noting that the scope and the level of sophistication of the crimes were unprecedented, Michael R Sherwin, Acting US Attorney for the District of Columbia, said adding that some of these criminals believed their association with the in-power Peoples Republic of China would provide them free license to hack and steal all around the globe.
Sherwin also said, “This scheme also contained a new and troubling cyber-criminal component — the targeting and utilisation of gaming platforms to both defraud video game companies and launder illicit proceeds,”.
Rosen had told the reporters and other media professionals that as an additional method of minting money hands over fists, several of the Chinese defendants compromised the networks of video game companies all around the globe – an industry which wich worth a billion dollar – and defrauded them of in-game resources.
He added, “Two of the Chinese defendants stand accused, with two Malaysian defendants, of selling those resources in the black market, through their illicit website,”.
The Chinese government has the power to help stop such crimes, Rosen alleged that the Chinese Government has made a conscious choice to allow its citizens in committing computer invasions and attacks all around the globe because these people will also help them back.