Criminal charges against a number of alleged hackers linked to China may come next week, levied by U.S. prosecutors, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.
The charges are tied to a “sophisticated multi-year scheme” that sought to compromise U.S. tech firms, the paper said, citing unnamed sources.
The hacks would be among the most ambitious campaigns seen from China, with an eye on stealing intellectual property and giving hackers access to those tech companies’ clients – among them other corporates and government agencies.
“The charges have been expected for several weeks and are intended as the latest in a flurry of recent actions taken by the Justice Department to publicly admonish China for its cyber-enabled economic espionage on American companies,” said the Journal.
The charges, of course, would come against a backdrop where there are already geopolitical tensions between the U.S. and China. The charges would also come in the wake of the arrest of a high-ranking Huawei tech official, though that case is unrelated to the charges that are expected to come next week.
The total cost of such hacks is estimated to be in the hundreds of billions of dollars annually, according to the report, and are billed as being part of the “greatest transfer of wealth in history.” The upcoming cases to be unveiled also follow charges from October, which came against 10 Chinese intelligence (and other) individuals. Taken as whole, the attacks are ones where hackers seek to “leapfrog” onto victims’ networks and target their customers.
The Journal noted that private-sector cybersecurity researchers have identified the attacks as being among the efforts of a hacking outfit known as “APT 10” or “cloudhopper,” a group that has been traced to Beijing. APT is shorthand for “advanced persistent threat.”