The United States justice department on Wednesday announced charges against Chinese citizens, believed to be tied to state intelligence, who hacked more than 100 companies in America and overseas, including social-media providers and universities.
Federal prosecutors said the five had been charged with hacking into software development companies, video game companies, government agencies, think tanks, and universities in the US and Hong Kong.
The suspects also allegedly targeted telecommunications providers in Australia, Tibet, Chile, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand.
According to the charging documents, the alleged hackers stole source code, customer account data, and valuable business information. These intrusions also facilitated the defendants’ other criminal schemes, including ransomware and “crypto-jacking” schemes, the latter of which refers to the group’s unauthorised use of victim computers to “mine” cryptocurrency.
The FBI says that the hackers, part of a group known as APT 41, were allowed to operate by the Chinese government, which has made no effort to curb the hacking activities of their own citizens.