WASHINGTON—Federal prosecutors on Wednesday charged five Chinese citizens with alleged ties to Beijing’s chief intelligence service with hacking more than 100 companies in the U.S. and overseas, including social-media firms, universities and telecommunications providers.
Two Malaysian businessmen were also arrested Monday in Malaysia and accused of conspiring with some of the Chinese hackers to profit from intrusions into the videogame industry, officials said.
The charges, laid out across three separate indictments unsealed Wednesday, build on several other cases brought against Chinese actors during the Trump administration, which has characterized Beijing’s cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property as a grave national and economic security threat.
“The Department of Justice has used every tool available to disrupt the illegal computer intrusions and cyberattacks by these Chinese citizens,” Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said. “Regrettably, the Chinese Communist Party has chosen a different path of making China safe for cybercriminals so long as they attack computers outside China and steal intellectual property helpful to China.”
The alleged hacking campaign was described by officials as the handiwork of Advanced Persistent Threat 41, a Chinese cyber squad that U.S.-based cyber firm FireEye had previously identified and linked to a range of malicious cyber activity against global targets in a range of business sectors, including finance, health care, real estate and the U.S. defense industrial base.
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