U.S. indicts 5 Chinese military officers for hacking PA firms

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Washington, DC, United States (4E) – The U.S. district court in Western Pennsylvania unsealed Monday an indictment of five Chinese military officers for allegedly hacking the computers of Pittsburgh-based companies to steal trade secrets and passing them to Chinese firms.

The 31-count indictment dated May 1, 2014 accused Peoples’ Liberation Army’s Wang Dong, Sun Kailiang, Wen Xinyu, Huang Zhenyu and Gu Chunhui of hacking into U.S. Steel Corp., Westinghouse, Alcoa, Allegheny Technologies, the United Steel Workers Union and SolarWorld between 2006 and 2014, and stealing confidential technical and design specifications on nuclear and solar power technologies.

“They stole sensitive internal communications that would provide a competitor” with insights on U.S. technology and strategy,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in announcing the indictment, according to Post-Gazette. “This indictment makes clear that state actors who engage in economic espionage — even over the Internet from faraway offices in places like Shanghai — will be exposed for the criminal conduct and sought for apprehension and prosecution in American court of law.”

David Hickton, the U.S. attorney in Western Pennsylvania, said the FBI tracked the hacking to one building in Shanghai.

The indictment said the defendants “stole thousands of emails and related attachments that provided detailed information about SolarWorld’s financial position, production capabilities, cost structure and business strategy. The defendants “stole hostnames and descriptions for more than 1,700 servers, including servers that controlled physician access to U.S. Steel’s facilities and mobile device access to the company’s networks.

A defendant “stole network credentials for virtually every employee at the Allegheny Technologiesto get wide-ranging and persistent access to the company’s computers.

China’s Foreign Ministry called the charges “extremely absurd” and harms U.S.-China relations. The ministry denied that the Chinese government, its military and associated personnel engage in any theft of trade secrets.”

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