Aviation, Defense, Health Care Targeted in Global Chinese Spying, Hacking Scheme

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The four hackers named in an indictment alleging a conspiracy to hack computers in order for China to gain a competitive advantage. Photo credit: justice.gov

Federal prosecutors in San Diego announced charges Monday against four Chinese nationals accused of hacking computer systems across the globe to steal information to benefit the Chinese government.

The defendants allegedly belonged to and worked for the Hainan State Security Department. The indictment described the agency as a provincial foreign intelligence arm of the People’s Republic of China’s Ministry of State Security.

According to prosecutors, the alleged thefts occurred between 2011 and 2018, involved victims in a dozen countries, and mainly centered “on information that was of significant economic benefit to China’s companies and commercial sectors.”

Authorities allege the goal was to install malware and other hacking tools in computer systems in order to steal data from foreign governments, universities and companies.

The hacks targeted a wide range of industries, including aviation, defense, health care and infectious disease research, prosecutors said.