China | Chinese Hackers Indicted by the United States
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Chinese Hackers Indicted by the United States
For four months in late 2012 and early 2013, hackers in China attacked The New York Times. Hackers gained access to the paper's computer systems and employee's passwords. The attacks came at the same time that the New York Times reported on an investigation that Prime Minister Wen Jiabao's relatives had acquired a several billion dollar fortune through business dealings. Security experts suggested that the attack was part of a wider computer espionage mission against U.S. news media outlets that report on Chinese leaders and business dealings. In fact, a day after The New York Times reported the incident, The Wall Street Journal revealed in a statement that hackers had infiltrated it, too, "for the apparent purpose of monitoring the newspaper's China coverage."
On Feb. 19, 2013, a 60-page study released by Mandiant, a U.S. computer security firm, showed evidence linking Unit 61398, a Chinese military unit, to the groups responsible for a large portion of the recent hacking in the United States. The study, which included digital forensic evidence, didn't prove that the hackers were inside the military unit's headquarters, but did show evidence that they were either inside or very close to Unit 61398.
In May 2014, The U.S. Justice Department unsealed an indictment of five members of Shanghai-based Unit 61398, the cyber division of Chinese People's Liberation Army, charging them with hacking into the computer networks of Westinghouse Electric, U.S. Steel Corp., and other companies. The move was considered largely symbolic since there was little chance the men would surrender.
American officials announced in July 2014 that Chinese hackers had breached the computer network of the Office of Personnel Management in March. They said they believe the hackers were targeting employees applying for top security clearances. It remained unclear how far the hackers got into the agency's network before authorities detected their presence and blocked them.
A year later, on June 4, 2015, U.S. officials announced that at least four million federal employees were involved in a data breach by hackers who had been traced to China. The breach was one of the largest ever of federal employee data and involved past and present employees. The Obama administration announced that the breach was first discovered in April 2015, but may have started in late 2014.