Chinese hackers charged by Justice Department with trying to steal US coronavirus research

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The Department of Justice announced Tuesday it has charged two Chinese hackers with trying to steal U.S. COVID-19 research as well as other sensitive information from businesses and government agencies.

The 11-count indictment against Li Xiaoyu, 34, and Dong Jiazhi, 31, alleges the Chinese nationals hacked into the computer systems of hundreds of companies, government organizations as well as individual dissidents and clergy.

They also allegedly broke into the accounts of democratic and human rights activists in the United States, Hong Kong and mainland China. The Justice Department alleges their con, which for a decade had allegedly been stealing sensitive information, was not only for personal financial gain but also to benefit the Chinese government.

The hackers stole terabytes of data from hundreds of targets establishing themselves as a prolific threat to U.S. and foreign networks,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers said during a press conference in New York.

Li and Dong, trained in computer applications technology at the same Chinese university in Chengdu, targeted countries with high-tech industries, including Australia, Belgium, Germany, Japan, Lithuania, Spain, South Korea, Sweden and the United Kingdom, authorities said. The industries included the high-tech manufacturing of medical devices, industrial engineering, business, educational and gaming software as well as in energy and pharmaceutical defense.

“In at least one instance, the hackers sought to extort cryptocurrency from a victim entity, by threatening to release the victim’s stolen source code on the Internet,” the FBI said. “More recently, the defendants probed for vulnerabilities in computer networks of companies developing COVID-19 vaccines, testing technology and treatments.” – READ MORE

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