This is the first time the US charges a state actor with hacking
The United States Department of Justice is prepared to charge five member of China’s military with hacking into the systems of American organizations.The United States government has often complained about Chinese hackers breaching the systems of companies in an effort to steal trade secrets and other valuable information. However, so far it has only attempted to address the issue through diplomatic methods.
Now, NBC reports that authorities are prepared to charge employees of the Chinese government with spying on US companies. It’s uncertain which organizations have been targeted by these hackers, but they’re reportedly from the manufacturing and energy sectors.
“For too long, the Chinese Government has blatantly sought to use cyber-espionage to obtain economic advantage for its state-owned industries,” James Comey, the director of the FBI, has told NBC News.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the suspects are part of the People's Liberation Army Unit 61398 in Shanghai. This is the unit whose activities are described in Mandiant’s famous report on the group known as APT1.
China has always denied such accusations. Whenever confronted with such allegations, officials have always highlighted the fact that China too is a victim of cyber espionage.
The US will officially announce the charges later today at a press conference.