Chinese cybercriminals targeted COVID research, hacked hundreds of companies: US
[cec_corona flag=false country_code=US]
by Chris Lefkow
Two Chinese nationals have been indicted for seeking to steal COVID-19 vaccine research and hacking hundreds of companies in the United States and abroad, including defense contractors, the US Justice Department said Tuesday.
Li Xiaoyu, 34, and Dong Jiazhi, 33, also targeted human rights activists in the United States, China and Hong Kong, Assistant Attorney General John Demers said.
The indictment comes amid rising tensions between the global superpowers fueled by the coronavirus pandemic which President Donald Trump blames on China.
Li and Dong, who are believed to be in China, acted in some instances “for their own personal gain” and in others for the benefit of China’s Ministry of State Security, Demers said at a news conference.
“China has now taken its place, alongside Russia, Iran, and North Korea, in that shameful club of nations that provide a safe haven for cyber criminals,” Demers said.
The Justice Department said Li and Dong, who were classmates at an electrical engineering college in Chengdu, have been engaged in a computer hacking campaign for the past 10 years.
They have targeted companies in the United States, Australia, Belgium, Germany, Japan, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Spain, South Korea, Sweden, and Britain, it said.
“Targeted industries included, among others, high tech manufacturing; medical device, civil, and industrial engineering; business, educational, and gaming software; solar energy; pharmaceuticals; defense,” it said.
“More recently, the defendants probed for vulnerabilities in computer networks of companies developing COVID-19 vaccines, testing technology, and treatments,” it said.
Justice Department officials said that Li and Dong targeted biotech companies in California, Maryland, Massachusetts and elsewhere but did not appear to have actually compromised any COVID-19 research. (AFP)