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DOJ charges Chinese hackers with stealing data from more than 100,000 US Navy personnel

The two Chinese nationals named were members of the APT 10 hacking group

Alex Wong/Getty Images

The U.S. Department of Justice has charged two Chinese nationals with stealing the personal data from more than 100,000 Navy personnel, as well as trade secrets from tech companies.

What are the details?

On Thursday, the Department of Justice unsealed an indictment against Chinese nationals Zhu Hua and Zhang Shilong. Both men were charged with "conspiracy to commit computer intrusions, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft."

According to the DOJ, Zhu and Zhang are "members of a hacking group operating in China known within the cyber security community as Advanced Persistent Threat 10 (the APT10 Group)."

According to the DOJ, since around 2006,

Members of the APT10 Group, including Zhu and Zhang, engaged in an intrusion campaign to obtain unauthorized access to the computers and computer networks of more than 45 technology companies and U.S. government agencies, in order to steal information and data concerning a number of technologies (the Technology Theft Campaign). Through the Technology Theft Campaign, the APT10 Group stole hundreds of gigabytes of sensitive data and targeted the computers of victim companies involved in aviation, space and satellite technology, manufacturing technology, pharmaceutical technology, oil and gas exploration and production technology, communications technology, computer processor technology, and maritime technology.

The DOJ also revealed that the APT10 Group had "compromised more than 40 computers in order to steal sensitive data belonging to the Navy, including the names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, salary information, personal phone numbers, and email addresses of more than 100,000 Navy personnel."

What else?

"China will find it difficult to pretend that it is not responsible for this action", Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said during a news conference.

The computer intrusion charges carry a maximum sentence of five years, while the conspiracy to commit wire fraud carries a maximum 20-year sentence, and the count of aggravated identity theft comes with a mandatory sentence of two years. The DOJ stressed that Zhu and Zhang were innocent until proven guilty. Neither has been arrested.

One last thing…
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