U.S. Indicts Two Chinese Nationals for Hacking Defense Secrets & Covid19 Research Data

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The Department of Justice indicted two Chinese nationals in what they are calling a decade-long cyber espionage campaign that targeted defense contractors, and most recently, U.S.-based Covid researchers. Officials say there were hundreds of victims in all worldwide.

Li Xiaoyu and Dong Jiazhi stole terabytes of weapons designs, drug information, software source code and personal data from targets that included dissidents and figures opposed to the Chinese Communist Party, authorities say. The pair were contractors for the Chinese government, rather than intelligence figures.

China “is willing to turn a blind eye to prolific criminal hackers operating within its borders,” U.S. Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers said at a press conference today.

“In this manner, China has now taken its place, alongside Russia, Iran, and North Korea, in that shameful club of nations that provides safe haven for cybercriminals in exchange for those criminals being on call for the benefit of the state.”

Among other allegations, authorities say that as early as January 27, while the pandemic was still in its initial stages, the hackers were trying to steal Covid19 vaccine research from an unidentified Massachusetts biotech firm.

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