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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W Boyd
1 year ago

There are a lot more than any 4 Chinese military officers involved.

Joanned
1 year ago

I am not surprised at the enormity of the crime Beware cyber crime is the latest and very lethal form of criminal activity It can cripple a city. A country, a government It is
Wise and prudent to spend effort and money to combat this lethal entity

Pat R
1 year ago

Technology makes everything so convenient. But just as “freedom isn’t free” so convenience isn’t without cost. The cost is building – stolen identity, privacy, national security breaches, etc. There will come a time when the cost may be greater than the convenience. Just as the day approaches when our freedom may need to be fought for (literally) once again.

H L Howell
1 year ago

the constitution says that we have the right to be secure in our persons, so my question is, who gave these companies the right to have our personal information. I certainly did not. can we sue for their violations of our rights?

JohnH
1 year ago

Please explain, these Chinese were indicted, but will they ever go to court in USA or what happens next?? Is China going to punish these people?

Pete M
1 year ago
Reply to  JohnH

That’s what I am wondering. How are they actually prosecuted?? We can’t extradite them. The article doesn’t explain.

Chuck
1 year 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!!!!!!

CATHERINE HORNSEY
1 year 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. I am careful, only shop at 2 or 3 stores ( top of the line), use only 1 credit card online, keep my software up to date, etc. My online credit card has been hacked three times last month, once before I even got the replacement card ? I am lucky that I have been mostly able to get out of the charges but how can this be stopped if there are no consequences?

Dr. Scott
1 year ago

Catherine, I am a victim as well. There’s a step by step process on the website IDTheft.gov that I used to get to the bottom of it, stop it from happening for up to 7 years, obtain a police report, get the actual IP addresses where these thieves were doing their evil deeds…. Well, it stopped for now. My wife got hit not long after I did. Yippee! Ain’t the new computer age lovely?

Bob L.
1 year 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 all that we are currently importing from Red China and then cut them off entirely, including sending their college “student” spies home.

H L Howell
1 year ago
Reply to  Bob L.

the United States can make anything that the chicom make. Why do you think they steal from us.Everything they make is junk. buy one, last a week. Buy American, last forever.

John Cutler
1 year ago

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

W Boyd
1 year ago
Reply to  John Cutler

I tried that. Almost everything in Walmart, Target, of course dollar stores, and even Amazon is made in China. Last year I went to Mexico, I want d to buy something that Said. Made in Mexico. I’d say 90% of things, made in China.

Bobby D
1 year ago

Yes and I was one of those people whose information was hacked ! And what does Equifax, do they won’t keep an eye out for any scams in my account, which I may add I never signed up for in the first place.

Brenda Blunt
1 year ago

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

H L Howell
1 year ago
Reply to  Brenda Blunt

That is exactly what president Trump is trying to do and if we had a patriotic congress to help instead of throwing roadblocks and acting childish(nancy and her tantrums) he may get it done quicker. democrats = obstructionists

Jacqueline
1 year ago

The Chinese are bad enough and now we have to contend with the Nutcase in the Philippines.

tony d willIiams
1 year ago

Was one of these intelligence agents the chauffeur for Senator Feinstein, or just provided the front door?

As just an engineer I have been approached occasionally when traveling, I’m retired now. Probably just conversation but my job and security required confidentiality. I did not work for the government but tech is tech as information “shall not be shared”.

Patriot Will
1 year ago

The Chinese government looks out only for itself. If it actually cooperates with other governments, it’s only because of self-interest. Many Americans are not aware of how truly corrupt the Chinese are. To them, it’s a matter of honor to do what ever needs to be done to take care of #1. When Biden says that we do not need to fear China, he is purposely lying — even Joe is not that dumb!

Ed J
1 year 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!”

John Karkalis
1 year ago
Reply to  Ed J

Ed, it sounds like another Pearl Harbor analogy. Remember “At Dawn we Slept “?
The aggressor generally has the advantage of time, place, and the element of surprise.
We have been hit. Time to respond.
We were bloodied, but we regrouped and prevailed 79 years ago.
We can do it again. Don’t forget who sits in the Oval office.

Ed J
1 year ago
Reply to  John Karkalis

Just like the Space Force that President Trump is establishing, we need to also establish a Cyber Command whose dedicated task is first to armor plate our entire cyber infrastructure (both military and civilian) to prevent intrusions and second to provide our government the cyber weapons needed to suppress our enemy’s cyber infrastructure. To date, all we have been doing is playing whack-a-mole catchup after each detected occurrence of intrusion. This, of course, is an after-the-fact reaction that takes on the form of a Chinese fire drill (excuse me, pun intended). A Cyber Command probably won’t happen until one day when they take down our electrical grid, neuter our satellites, and bring our day-to-day activities to a screeching halt.

Enuf Said
1 year 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.

Sheila
1 year ago
Reply to  Enuf Said

Sad to say, most of them cannot be trusted anymore especially in the government line, but I do feel very sorry for these Chinese people who have nothing to do with this and yet, they will be rejected just the same, because of this problem.

Alfonso Bedoya
1 year 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.

John Karkalis
1 year ago
Reply to  Alfonso Bedoya

Alfonso, as I mentioned in my earlier post this is war by other means, surely as destructive today to our infrastructure as was a Mitsubishi dive bomber to a ship of the line at Pearl Harbor.
Yes, if Bernie or Lizzie was in the Oval office we would be apologizing profusely to the Chinese for THEIR act of aggression.
I have confidence that Mr Trump is monitoring this very carefully and is prepared to respond quantitatively.
On “turning the other cheek”? I have found that doing so invites a kick to the other cheek and I am not referring to the cheek on the side of one’s face

Sheila
1 year ago
Reply to  Alfonso Bedoya

Alfonso, yes we should forgive our enemies no matter what, but in a case like this, don’t forget not all Chinese students are enemies as there are some good ones. There good and bad in all kinds. I agree that the Chinese government is an Evil entity, but don’t forget the Democrat Party are also an Evil entity, too.

Steril Fox
1 year ago

And we just sent China $100,000,000! for the Coronavirus epidemic. What do we get back from China? Will they reimburse us by crediting the interest we pay them for their loans on our national debt? Trump complains how China has been taking advantage of the US and then sends them $100,000,00!

Veteran
1 year ago

So we’ve identified the foxes who broke into the hen house and did as they please, after they got out and are safely back in the woods. Now are we going to get that shotgun and have someone stand guard outside of the hen house for next time, and get a few more armed men to go after the foxes and make them pay with their hide? Doesn’t sound like it; sounds like feel good propaganda to cover up for ineptitude, ignorance and inability to perform. Also, no Chinese PLA soldier acts on his own! This was not a “lone wolf” the orders came from their Polit Bureau, in other words they came from Xi Jin Ping, any indictment will have to include him or it’s a farce.

Roy Law
1 year ago
Reply to  Veteran

Veteran, I can’t agree more with you. I am a Vietnam veteran. We won every battle, but lost the war due to politicians in Washington trying to run the war from there instead of letting our military leaders on the ground make the decisions. But now we have a REAL President who isn’t afraid to stand up to our enemies despite his political opposition from the leftists. The time to destroy their computer hacking abilities is now.

John Karkalis
1 year ago
Reply to  Roy Law

Roy, it’s because of who is in the White House that I believe this act of aggression by the Chinese will be answered in kind.
I too was in Viet Nam (Phu Bai in Northern I Corps, 1968-1969).
The troops performed gallantly.
The political generals fell far short.

Anthony Guastella
1 year 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 people who supplied arms, materials, logistics, and training to the NVA in Viet Nam. And the same to the butchers in Korea as well. Lest we forget.

H L Howell
1 year ago

and bernie wants us to be just like them and the young college kids support him because he says he will pay their bills. socialist never tell the truth like the democrats who are socialist\communist.

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