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The New Normal': US Charges Chinese Military Officers With Cyber Espionage

The US Department of Justice and the FBI indict five members of the Chinese military for allegedly hacking and stealing trade secrets of major American steel, solar energy, and other manufacturing companies, including Alcoa, Westinghouse Electric, and US Steel.

The Obama administration made history today with the country's first-ever criminal charges filed for cyber espionage. The US Department of Justice indicted five members of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) with hacking into US businesses to steal trade secrets.

The five defendants named in an indictment unsealed today -- Wang Dong, Sun Kailiang, Wen Xinyu, Huang Zhenyu, and Gu Chunhui -- are part of Unit 61398 of the Third Department of China's PLA in Shanghai, a group also known as APT1, which was first exposed publicly in an eye-opening report early last year by the security firm Mandiant, now part of FireEye.

Westinghouse Electric, Alcoa, Allegheny Technologies Incorporated, US Steel, the United Steelworkers Union, and SolarWorld all are named as victims in the May 1 indictment. A grand jury in Pittsburgh handed down indictments for 31 criminal counts, including identity theft, economic espionage, theft of trade secrets, and various hacking charges.

China's widespread and aggressive cyber espionage operations against US government, military, and corporate interests has been a poorly kept secret and, to date, a frustrating game of cat and mouse with victim organizations and security firms calling out specific indicators of compromise, or earmarks of their activities, that help victims block or keep an eye out for signs of the attackers.

[See the rest of this article on Dark Reading]

Kelly Jackson Higgins is Executive Editor at She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

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