The United States Department of Justice announced on Thursday (Dec. 20) that it’s bringing charges against two Chinese nationals for an alleged global hacking campaign that affected multiple companies and military branches, including 100,000 members of the U.S. Navy, CNBC reported.
The men, Zhu Hua and Zhang Shilong, are accused of conspiracy to commit computer intrusions, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. Prosecutors say the men participated in numerous operations to steal from governments and companies alike. The men are at large.
The men worked with a hacking group called “Advanced Persistent Threat 10,” or “APT10.” It also had other names, including “Stone Panda” and “Red Apollo.” The men are also accused of working with the Chinese government.
“China will find it difficult to pretend that it is not responsible for this action,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said.
The group stole from at least 45 U.S. tech companies, the indictment said, and although the majority of them weren’t named, targets like NASA’s jet propulsion lab and the Department of Energy’s National Laboratory were mentioned.
The men also allegedly hacked about 40 computers tied to the Navy, and stole “the personally identifiable information of more than 100,000 Navy personnel.”
Other companies involved in the hack include an oil and gas company, companies that manufacture advanced electronics systems and a maritime tech company.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen released a joint statement and said the alleged hacks “present a very real threat to the economic competitiveness of companies in the United States and around the globe.”
“We strongly urge China to abide by its commitment to act responsibly in cyberspace and reiterate that the United States will take appropriate measures to defend our interests,” they said.
New sanctions are expected to come into play on Thursday (Dec. 20) that directly address the hacking situation.