Politics

Chinese Military Officers Charged With Stealing 145 Million Americans’ Data in Equifax Hack

China hacked Clinton server chinese military hack U.S. authorities have indicted four members of the Chinese military on charges of hacking the credit-reporting agency Equifax, stealing the sensitive personal information of roughly 145 million Americans and Equifax’s trade secrets, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said on Jan. 10.

The breach into Equifax in mid-2017 was one of the largest hacks on record, and exposed Americans’ sensitive financial records, Social Security numbers, and driver’s license data.

A federal grand jury in Atlanta returned a nine-count indictment last week that accused four members of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of engaging in a hacking operation that involved exploiting a vulnerability in Equifax’s online dispute portal.

“This was a deliberate and sweeping intrusion into the private information of the American people,” said U.S. Attorney General William Barr in a press release.

Wu Zhiyong, Wang Qian, Xu Ke, and Liu Lei were members of the PLA’s 54th Research Institute, a unit of the Chinese military, the DOJ stated.

Allegations

The hackers spent weeks in the system, uploading malicious software and stealing login credentials to carry out their theft, Barr said at a Feb. 10 press conference.

Prosecutors allege that the hackers ran about 9,000 queries on Equifax’s system to search for sensitive personal data, and managed to obtain names, birth dates, and Social Security numbers for about 145 million Americans—almost half of all U.S. citizens.

They also routed traffic through 34 servers in nearly 20 locations in order to hide their links to China, the department said.

The indictment also charges the hackers with theft of Equifax’s trade secrets, namely its data compilations and database designs.

The announcement came after a two-year investigation, Barr said.

Equifax CEO Mark Begor said the company was grateful for the federal investigation.

“It is reassuring that our federal law enforcement agencies treat cybercrime—especially state-sponsored crime—with the seriousness it deserves,” he said in a Feb. 10 press release.

In the aftermath of the cyberattack, Equifax has agreed to pay up to $700 million to settle claims by harmed customers.

The controversy also led to the departure of its then-CEO Richard Smith and several congressional hearings into the company’s delayed disclosure of the breach and its cybersecurity practices.

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), a member of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, denounced the Chinese regime’s role in the hack.

“The Chinese Communist Party will leave no stone unturned in its effort to steal and exploit American data,” he said in a Feb. 10 statement.

“These indictments are good news, but we’ve got to do more to protect Americans’ data from Chinese Communist Party influence operations.”

Hacking Campaigns

The Equifax breach, Barr said, was one among a range of Chinese state-backed hacking operations aimed to steal sensitive personal information from Americans.

These include the 2014 hack of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which resulted in the theft of around 23 million records of federal employees; the 2014 hack of Marriott Hotels, which exposed the personal information of up to 500 million customers; and the 2015 breach of U.S. insurer Anthem, which affected a computer system containing data on nearly 80 million people.

“This data has economic value, and these thefts can feed China’s development of artificial intelligence tools as well as the creation of intelligence-targeting packages,” Barr said at the press conference.

The OPM data breach involved exfiltrating personal data submitted by applicants for U.S. government security clearances. This included the names, Social Security numbers, and addresses of more than 22 million current and former federal employees and contractors, as well as 5.6 million fingerprints.

Previous reporting by The Epoch Times revealed that the Chinese regime was using stolen information from the OPM hack and other breaches to build a massive database on Americans, and using it for the purpose of political and economic espionage.

State-sponsored hackers have also targeted foreign companies to steal trade secrets, Barr noted.

For instance, in December 2019, the DOJ charged two Chinese nationals working for the regime’s top intelligence agency, the Ministry of State Security, over an extensive hacking campaign targeting U.S. government agencies and private companies in the United States and at least a dozen other countries.

Reprinted with permission from - The Epoch Times - by Cathy He

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Shoe
9 months ago

While the Dims were yelling Russia, Russia, Russia, the Chinese were stealing our personal info. Dims don’t care about us‼️‼️

John Karkalis
9 months ago

How do you define an act of war?
With their ongoing theft of our technology and intellectual property the Chinese are no friends of ours.
I trust Mr Trump will address this serious problem vigorously during his second term.
The Chinese should be under no illusion that we lack muscle and the will to retaliate.

John Schoepf
9 months ago

What good do indictments do? We have no way to get to the people involved.

John Morrison
9 months ago

When the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain to change— we will start to wake up and change! We “the people” must begin to open our eyes that we have adversaries that do not play fair nor friendly! And don’t think that all our government is on the side of the American people. Greed takes over!!!

Mark F.
9 months ago

Hackers, which ruin the lives of millions should receive the death penalty. It is past time to deal seriously with these modern day techno spies and dangerous ultra nerds.

J. FARLEY
9 months ago

IF THIS HAPPEN IN MID-2017 THIS IS A HOLD OVER PROBLEM FROM OBAMA / OBIDEN ( i intended to put the O in biden )THIS IS ALL THE MORE REASON TO RE-ELECT PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP IN 2020 BUT IT WON’T HAPPEN IF WE THE CHRISTIAN RIGHT SET OUT THIS ELECTION BECAUSE WE DON’T LIKE THE PRESIDENTS TONE AND MANNER IF YOU OR YOU AND YOUR NEIGHBOR SET OUT THIS ELECTION THEN SAY HELLO TO A DEMONRAT PRESIDENT. IF YOU HAVE DOUBTS READ —GOD, TRUMP, AND THE 2020 ELECTION BY STEPHEN E. STRANG , THIS COULD BE YOUR LAST FREE… Read more »

Joseph Fauty
9 months ago

China will not give up these soldiers. The US is not about to start a shooting war nor should it institute sanctions. Neither can the government expect US companies to handle this. The Feds must stand up. Our cyber security is second to none – the Feds should hack the Chinese where it hurts the most.

Rick J.
9 months ago

I guess, better late than never is the how one would describe the China situation. At least there is something left to protect. Imagine if Hillary had won, there would be nothing left.

R Welch
9 months ago

How do I find out if I am a victim of the breach? Would Equifax have notified me?

Stephen Russell
9 months ago

& meanwhile Chinese rips off our Tech etc & is tight lipped about coronavirus plague IE virus info for Med teams worldwide IE those on Diamond Princess in Japan, 14 days in cabin Id go crazy.
& we have 2 play Nice I say up ante for Trade talks on China, raise tariffs,
Force China to change via trade.
Is this fair 2 U?

Ralph
9 months ago

Never, Never, Never…Ever, Ever trust the Chicoms. NEVER!!!

John Cutler
9 months ago

We can hurt China monetarily by not buying their goods. Read labels, choose manufactured in USA.

Ed J
9 months ago

Obviously, just the tip of the iceberg! China is gearing up for total cyberwarfare capability and they are getting better at it with each passing day. Given our complacency, when the time comes, they will simply catch us all “asleep at wheel!”

Anthony Guastella
9 months ago

Our number one enemy, the Chinese Communists. Outwardly they may seem as if they changed but nothing could be further from the truth. They lie, steal, misinform, play double-dealing and all in all are to be exposed and nullified every possible way. They have nothing that benefits American interests or security or freedoms. They do offer sales to mega-corporations and slave labor for these corporations but they can shift their operations elsewhere and still sell to the common Chinese people. This is the country that practiced infanticide for decades, harvests organs today’s and persecutes Christians relentlessly. These are the same… Read more »

Bob L.
9 months ago

The Red Chinese must have this country in a choke hold that we can’t do anything about or face severe shortages of most of the things we use, from advanced electronics to pet food. Since a lot of what used to be our manufacturing is still out-of-country around the world, we are in a serious situation if we were to get into a shooting war with the Reds as we don’t have as large and diverse a manufacturing base like we had at the start of WW II to convert to defense manufacturing. We need to reach self sufficiency for… Read more »

Alfonso Bedoya
9 months ago

Nothing will be done! The liberals continue to operate under the delusional theory that we should “forgive our enemies,” and not even deport them, and we still allow Chinese students to go to our colleges and universities. The Chink government is an EVIL entity, and we still just don’t “get it.” The Christian attitude is to “turn the other cheek.” Doesn’t work; never has worked, but our Bible-thumpers continue the charade.

CATHERINE HORNSEY
9 months ago

Yes, but what about identity theft? I am a victim of it several times over and the police or the government will do nothing about it, it is evidently off their radar. It infuriates me, when will it be taken seriously? And also ransom stuff? Are only businesses and governments important? What about me? This is beginning to to take up more and more of my time and resources. I am disabled and online shopping has been great for me, I cannot shop in stores due to my disability and this has allowed me to maintain some independence and live.… Read more »

Enuf Said
9 months ago

That is just what the Chinese do. They can’t compete-so they steal patent info and other private info to sell or use for their wicked purposes.

Chuck
9 months ago

Anyone that still believes China is not a threat is a believer of fairy tales. China is a Clear Present and Future Danger to the USA. WAKE UP AMERICA!!!!!!

Brenda Blunt
9 months ago

With this in mind, why are we in trade negotiations? We need to bring back manufacturing to our country!!

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