The US has filed espionage charges against hackers who allegedly spied on several US businesses, including Westinghouse and US Steel, on behalf of the Chinese military.
Announced today, the charges allege that five officers in Unit 61398 of the Third Department of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) hacked into six US businesses “to steal information from those entities that would be useful to their competitors in China, including state-owned enterprises”. Two of the five individuals are being charged with supporting the alleged hacking through things like managing infrastructure.
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“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,” US Attorney General Eric Holder said.
“The range of trade secrets and other sensitive business information stolen in this case is significant and demands an aggressive response. Success in the global market place should be based solely on a company’s ability to innovate and compete, not on a sponsor government’s ability to spy and steal business secrets. This Administration will not tolerate actions by any nation that seeks to illegally sabotage American companies and undermine the integrity of fair competition in the operation of the free market,” Holder added.
In some of the alleged intrusions, it is said that trade secrets and other sensitive information were stolen at a time that could have been particularly useful for competitors of the businesses concerned.
The six businesses named in the filing are: Westinghouse Electric Co. (Westinghouse), US subsidiaries of SolarWorld AG (SolarWorld), United States Steel Corp. (U.S. Steel), Allegheny Technologies Inc. (ATI), the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union (USW) and Alcoa Inc.
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