Chinese Nationals Hacking US Politicians and High Profiles Caught

( The US Justice Department is charging seven Chinese nationals with allegedly hacking business and political personnel in the United States as part of an effort to advance Chinese economic and intelligence interests. The hackers allegedly targeted officials in the White House, members of Congress, and campaign staff over the course of more than a decade.

Federal prosecutors indicted the seven Chinese nationals on charges including conspiracy to commit computer intrusions and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The group allegedly spent 14 years targeting political and business figures in order to further China’s foreign intelligence and economic espionage goals.

The Chinese nationals were allegedly part of a hacking group known as Advanced Persistent Threat 31 (APT31), which is part of a cyberespionage program run by the Chinese government, according to the Justice Department. Some of APT31’s work compromised networks, email accounts, cloud storage, and telephone call records.

The case acts as a reminder that the Chinese government is willing to launch malicious cyber operations aimed at threatening US national security, Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. The Justice Department will “relentlessly pursue” cyber criminals who seek to undermine democracies and threaten national security, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco also said.

The Justice Department’s National Security and Cybercrime Section is prosecuting the case.

The US and the United Kingdom both announced sanctions against APT31 as well, alleging that the group spies on behalf of the Chinese government. However, China has pushed back on the move and dismissed the allegations.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian said that the US and UK’s actions are a form of political manipulation and accused the two countries of “hyping up” cyberattacks allegedly directed by China. Jian called on the US and UK to stop politicizing cyber security issues, “slandering” China, and imposing unilateral sanctions.

Regardless of whether the accusations against the Chinese nationals are well founded, it is clear that the US and its allies are willing to confront China about its alleged espionage and intelligence activities in the cyber realm.

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