US prosecutors have charged two Chinese nationals tied to Beijing’s top spy network with stealing sensitive data from US government agencies and major global businesses.
The two individuals, Zhu Hua and Zhang Jianguo, are alleged to have carried out hacking attacks on the US Navy, NASA and the US Energy Department. Sources also told Reuters that their operation, codenamed ‘Cloudhopper’ also targeted intellectual property and customer data of companies including IBM and Hewlett Packard, in order to pass on to Chinese companies.
The hacking had been ongoing since 2006, meaning that China breached a 2015 agreement to reduce cyber espionage for commercial purposes.
“No country poses a broader, more severe long-term threat to our nation’s economy and cyber infrastructure than China,” said FBI Director Chris Wray. “China’s goal, simply put, is to replace the US as the world’s leading superpower, and they’re using illegal methods to get there.”
Britain, Australia, and New Zealand also levelled criticism against China. One British security official described the campaign as “one of the most serious strategically significant, persistent and potentially damaging set of cyber intrusions against the UK and our allies that we have seen.”