U.S. accuses Chinese nationals of hacking spree

Video Credit: Reuters - Politics
Published on July 22, 2020 - Duration: 01:44s

U.S. accuses Chinese nationals of hacking spree

COVID data, defense secrets and personal data: those are just some of the things two Chinese hackers are accused of targeting in a decade-long global theft operation, according to a Department of Justice indictment made public on Tuesday.

Gloria Tso reports.

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U.S. accuses Chinese nationals of hacking spree

(SPEAKER: U.S. Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers) “In this manner, China has now taken its place alongside Russia, Iran and North Korea in that shameful club of nations that provide a safe-haven for cyber criminals, in exchange for those criminals being on call for the benefit of the state." Two Chinese nationals indicted Tuesday over their role in what the U.S. Justice Department called a decade-long cyber espionage campaign that targeted defense contractors, COVID researchers and hundreds of other victims worldwide.

U.S. authorities accused Li Xiaoyu and Dong Jiazhi of stealing large troves of data including weapons designs, software source code and personal data.

According to the indictment, the two also tried to steal COVID-19 vaccine research from an unidentified Massachusetts biotech firm.

At a virtual press conference Tuesday, U.S. Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers described the two as hackers-for-hire with China's Ministry of Security, or MSS, as one of their clients.

"The indictment also highlights how the Chinese government is willing to turn a blind eye to prolific criminal hackers within its borders.

Although the indictment alleged the defendants conducted activity on behalf of the MSS, some of the defendants' alleged criminal activities were conducted for their personal profit.

For example, in one instance, defendant Li is alleged to have emailed a target and threaten to expose the target's stolen source code on the Internet unless he was paid $15,000 in cryptocurrency." The Chinese Embassy in

Class="kln">Washington did not immediately return a message seeking comment, although Beijing has repeatedly denied hacking the United States.

This indictment comes at a time of heightened tensions between Beijing and Washington.

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