The Justice Department on Thursday levied conspiracy charges against two Chinese nationals who are accused of hacking, wire fraud, identity and tech theft against at least 45 U.S. companies and government agencies.
“China’s goal, simply put, is to replace the U.S. as the world’s largest global superpower.”
The hackers, part of a group known as “Advanced Persistent Threat 10” or “APT10,” “Red Apollo” and “Stone Panda,” also are accused of working directly with the Chinese government.
“China will find it difficult to pretend that it is not responsible for this action,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said during a Thursday morning press conference.
Two alleged cyber espionage campaigns identified in the indictment include a technology theft campaign that began in 2006, and a campaign to steal intellectual property and other data from remote-access client-management companies that started in 2014.
Over the course of the latter campaign, the two Chinese nationals accessed computers related to victim companies in “at least 12 countries,” the filing alleges.
“China’s goal, simply put, is to replace the U.S. as the world’s largest global superpower,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said at the press conference.
The group allegedly stole information from at least 45 unnamed U.S. tech companies and government agencies, along with the Department of Energy’s National Laboratory and NASA’s jet propulsion lab.
APT10 also is accused of hacking more than 40 U.S. Navy computers and stealing the “personally identifiable information of 100,000 Navy personnel.”
They’re also accused of hacking three communications technology companies, three companies “involved in manufacturing advanced electronic systems,” a maritime technology company, an oil and gas company, and at least 25 other technology-related companies.
The action comes as China and the U.S. are embroiled in volatile trade negotiations. The talks have already been complicated by Canadian authorities’ Dec. 1 arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, one of China’s largest companies, at the behest of the Justice Department.