United States charges 2 hackers linked to Chinese intel

The indictment claims the pair worked for the Huaying Haitai Science and Technology Development Company in Tianjin and acted in association with the Chinese Ministry of State Security's bureau in the north-eastern port city.

USA prosecutors yesterday indicted two Chinese nationals believed to be linked to China's Ministry of State Security intelligence agency on charges of hacking major corporations in America and around the world.

The two were accused of running a massive operation to steal "intellectual property and confidential business and technological information", targeting over 45 companies across the United States as well as government agencies, prominently including the U.S. Navy.

Prosecutors charged Zhu Hua and Zhang Shilong in hacking attacks against the US Navy, the space agency NASA and the Energy Department and dozens of companies.

The private companies infiltrated by the group are unnamed, which is common in criminal complaints, but include those involved in industrial factory automation, radar technology, oil exploration, IT services, pharmaceutical manufacturing, and computer processor technology.

Canada also pointed the finger at China, with its Communications Security Establishment agency stating that it was nearly certain that actors associated with the Chinese government were behind the attacks on the service providers beginning as early as 2016.

The hollowing out of Chinese technology companies gathers pace.

"China's goal, simply put, is to replace the U.S.as the world's leading superpower, and they're using illegal methods to get there".

The Foreign Office said a group known as APT 10 - the same one cited by the United States - carried out "a malicious cyber campaign targeting intellectual property and sensitive commercial data in Europe, Asia and the US".

China is New Zealand's largest trading partner.

New Zealand's worldwide spy agency says it became aware of the campaign in early 2017 and that it runs counter to commitments that China and other member nations of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation group made in 2016.

The FBI said Zhu and Zhang are believed to be in China but it will seek their arrest if they ever leave the country. "If our officials in China were indicted, they would not stop their work", he said at an event in Washington last month.

In her statement on Friday, Hua said, "The Chinese government has never participated in or supported anyone in any form in stealing trade secrets".

"We urge these countries to respect the facts and stop deliberately defamation of China so as not to damage their bilateral relations and cooperation in important areas with China", she said.

Zhu and Zhang are accused of intruding networks of managed IT service providers (MSP) that provided IT infrastructure for storing and processing data of affected targets.

China yesterday called the United States arrogant and selfish after two Chinese citizens were charged with stealing U.S. trade secrets and other sensitive information on behalf of Beijing's main intelligence agency.

Some former intelligence officials who have worked in offensive cyber operations told Yahoo News there is concern that condemning foreign officials doing state-sanctioned work puts USA citizens doing similar work at risk.

USA complaints of cyberespionage and other means of IP theft (including forced technology transfers as a condition to enter the Chinese market) are at the core of the ongoing trade dispute with China.

More than a dozen allies affected - including the United Kingdom - have condemned China over the allegations.

"We hope the day will come when those defendants face justice under the rule of law in an American courtroom", said Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein at a press conference.