DOJ charges alleged Chinese hackers for stealing trade secrets, targeting firms working on COVID-19 vaccine


(WASHINGTON) — The Justice Department has announced an 11-count indictment charging two alleged Chinese hackers accused of carrying out a massive global cyber intrusion campaign to steal trade secrets, including most recently targeting companies conducting research for a COVID-19 vaccine.

Li Xiaoyu and Dong Jiazhi, both Chinese nationals currently living in China, are alleged in the indictment to be active leaders of a hacking campaign that has been ongoing for more than 10 years and has targeted hundreds of companies in more than 11 countries, including the U.S.

“The defendants stole hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of trade secrets, intellectual property, and other valuable business information,” the indictment said.

Their primary goal, according to federal prosecutors, was not only personal financial gain but to hand over stolen data and hacked information to China’s Ministry of State Security and other Chinese government agencies.

“The hackers stole terabytes of data which comprised a sophisticated and prolific threat to U.S. networks,” the DOJ said in a press release. “More recently, the defendants probed for vulnerabilities in computer networks of companies developing COVID-19 vaccines, testing technology, and treatments.”

According to the indictment, Xiaoyu and Jiazhi were allegedly able to steal information “regarding military satellite programs; military wireless networks and communications systems; high-powered microwave and laser systems; a counter-chemical weapons system; and ship-to-helicopter integration systems.”

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