The United States Department of Justice on Thursday unsealed an indictment against two computer hackers believed to be in the employment of the Chinese government, accusing the individuals in question of a wide variety of transgressions, including a conspiracy to hack dozens of companies from the USA and other parts of the world with the goal of stealing sensitive technologies and otherwise hurting China's economic rivals.
They're said to have stolen gigabytes of data from organizations involved in aerospace, satellites, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, oil and gas exploration and production, communications, and computer processors.
The group hacked the U.S. Navy, making off with the personal data of more than 100,000 personnel, and successfully infiltrated computers linked to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the indictment said.
Zhu and Zhang were members of a hacking group known within the cyber security community as APT 10 and also worked for a Tianjin company, Huaying Haitai Science and Technology Development Co, prosecutors said. Just $5 a month.
China's president Xi Jinping has said no matter how advanced their economy becomes, they will never seek "world domination".
The decision by governments in the U.S. and Australia to effectively name and shame Beijing over the industrial espionage marks a major departure from the usual practice of not attributing hacking behaviour, and reflects the intense frustration of Canberra at China's persistent efforts to steal commercial secrets.
"China's goal simply put is to replace the U.S.as the world's leading superpower and they are using illegal methods to get there", said Federal Bureau of Investigation director Christopher Wray.
"While we welcome fair competition, we can not and will not tolerate illegal hacking, stealing or cheating", Wray said. Last week, Bill Priestap, head of the FBI's counterintelligence division, told Congress that China's cyberattacks were part of a broad campaign against the US.
The indictment is the latest in a series of Justice Department criminal cases targeting Chinese cyberespionage and coincided with an announcement by Britain blaming China's Ministry of State Security for trade-secret pilfering affecting Western nations.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein addressed charges against two Chinese hackers.
Those complaints are a central issue in negotiations USA and China are working under a 90-day deadline President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping set after agreeing December 1 to halt additional tariffs and trade penalties.
"Attackers are getting clever, hiding in plain sight by using tools and techniques already installed on targeted computers, making them hard to detect", he added in the email which did not mention China. "We can not let this continue!"
The U.S. did succeed in getting a Chinese suspect extradited from Belgium in October, however.
The Trump administration has taken a hard stance on China, on issues of trade, technology and espionage.
CHANG: Now, all of this is coming at a time of intense trade tensions with China.
"The accusation from the US government today that China has violated the 2015 Cybersecurity Agreement means little without a case study or data to support", Priscilla Moriuchi, director of strategic threat development at Recorded Future, a threat intelligence firm, told Fifth Domain. With that background in mind, USA officials are unlikely to put much stock in future Chinese promises.
China, meanwhile, has consistently denied that it conducts any sort of state-backed cyberespionage, and often counters that the country is a frequent victim of cyberattacks.
"It has been an open secret for relevant United States departments to conduct both large-scale and organised network stealing and monitoring activities on foreign governments, enterprises and individuals", the statement continues.
Fleming said the US government should raise the awareness level with all organizations to the CCP's grand strategy, which has been underway since 1986.