A federal grand jury in Washington D.C has charged five Chinese hackers for computer intrusions that affected more than a hundred victim enterprises in the United States and abroad.
The jury returned two separate indictments in August 2019 and August 2020. The indictments charged five Chinese nationals with computer intrusions, affecting numerous companies in the United States and foreign locations including Hong Kong, Germany, South Korea, and Japan.
US indictments against Chinese hackers
The indictments were announced on Wednesday, September 16, and revealed the arrests of two defendants in Malaysia and charges against five Chinese hackers.
According to the release, the Chinese hackers charged by the indictments are the actors behind the labels “Wicked Spider,” “Wicked Panda,” “APT 41,” and “Barium” among others. The group’s computer intrusions were often accompanied by other criminal schemes including ransomware and crypto-jacking.
US authorities also prosecuted two Malaysian residents that allegedly conspired with the Chinese hackers to benefit from computer intrusions targeting participants of the video game industry. Malaysian authorities, including the Royal Malaysia Police, cooperated with US authorities and the two businessmen were arrested.
According to a New York Times report, the group initially started out as Wicked Spider and targetted gaming companies to generate profit. However, the group suddenly changed its target in 2015 to a wide range of industries including agriculture, chemicals, and manufacturing and technology that would aid the People’s Republic of China’s Five-year plan.
Researchers in 2016 concluded that the hackers were working on the behest of the Chinese government. In the recent release, Deputy Attorney General, Jeffrey A. Rosen stated that the Chinese government has chosen to make “China safe for cybercriminals so long as they attack computers outside China and steal intellectual property helpful to China.”
Meanwhile, researchers have applauded the efforts by US authorities against Chinese intrusion operations against Western targets.