|From left, Chinese military officers Gu Chunhui, Huang Zhenyu, Sun Kailiang, Wang Dong, and Wen Xinyu have been indicted on cyber espionage charges.|
In a case out of the Western District of Pennsylvania, five Chinese military hackers were indicted on charges of computer hacking, economic espionage, and other offenses directed at six American victims in the U.S. nuclear power, metals, and solar products industries. This marks the first time criminal charges have been filed against known state actors for hacking.
From 2006-2014, defendants Wang Dong, Sun Kailiang, Wen Xinyu, Huang Zhenyu, and Gu Chunhui, who were officers in Unit 61398 of the Third Department of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, were allegedly involved a hacking conspiracy that targeted Westinghouse Electric Co.; U.S. subsidiaries of SolarWorld AG; United States Steel Corp.; Allegheny Technologies Inc.; the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union; and Alcoa, Inc.
“The range of trade secrets and other sensitive business information stolen in this case is significant and demands an aggressive response,” said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder at a press conference announcing the charges today in Washington, D.C. “Success in the global market place should be based solely on a company’s ability to innovate and compete, not on a sponsor government’s ability to spy and steal business secrets.”
“State actors engaged in cyber espionage for economic advantage are not immune from the law just because they hack under the shadow of their country’s flag,” added Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin. “Cyber theft is real theft, and we will hold state-sponsored cyber thieves accountable as we would any other transnational criminal organization that steals our goods and breaks our laws.”
As FBI Executive Assistant Director Robert Anderson emphasized, “If you are going to attack Americans—whether for criminal or national security purposes—we are going to hold you accountable. No matter what country you live in.”