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DOJ prepares to charge Chinese hackers with attacking technology services firms


The Justice Department is accusing China of violating an agreement regarding intellectual property theft

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Federal prosecutors with the Department of Justice are reportedly preparing to bring charges against hackers who are reportedly linked to the Chinese government.

Here's what we know

According to the Wall Street Journal, “U.S. officials have described the hacking campaign as one of the most audacious and damaging orchestrated by China to date."

These hacks reportedly targeted companies and U.S. government agencies. Private-sector cybersecurity researchers cited by the Wall Street Journal said that the hacks were the work of a group known as "APT 10" or "cloudhopper," which is reportedly tied to the Chinese government.

The Department of Homeland Security issued a warning in October regarding a hacking campaign that they said was targeting intellectual property in the the health care, energy, communications, and manufacturing industries.

These charges have been been expected for a while and could come next week.

What else?

This news comes only one day after news broke that the Canadian government had arrested Meng Wanzhou, the CFO of Chinese tech giant Huawei. The U.S. has asked for Meng to be extradited.

For the past two years, U.S. prosecutors have been looking into whether Meng's company shipped U.S. goods to Iran in violation of sanctions. Meng allegedly used a subsidiary of her company to evade U.S. sanctions for 2009 and 2014. In addition to being the CFO, Meng is also the daughter of the founder of Huawei.

The Chinese government has demanded that Meng be released, calling her arrest "despicable hooliganism" on the part of the United States. According to the Wall Street Journal, the charges against Meng are unrelated to the hacking.

On Dec. 1, the U.S. and China agreed to hold off implementing new tariffs for 90 days. The two nations have been engaged in an escalating trade war, following the Trump administration's global tariffs on steel and aluminum imports to the U.S. So far, this temporary truce has not been called off, despite the charges and the arrest of Meng.

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