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US charges Chinese military officers with hacking credit rating agency Equifax

EPA-EFE/MICHAEL REYNOLDS
US Attorney General William Barr participates in a news conference in front of FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich (Back), at the Justice Department in Washington, DC, USA, 10 February 2020. The press conference was held to announce the indictment of four members of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) with computer hacking into the credit reporting agency Equifax. The nine-count indictment alleges the Chinese military personnel stole the sensitive personal data of approximately 145 million Americans.

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Four members of China’s military have been indicted by the US government on charges of hacking into the credit-reporting agency Equifax.
US law enforcement officials said the officers are suspected of stealing the company’s trade secrets and the personal data of nearly half of all Americans. In particular, they are accused of stealing the names, birth dates, social security numbers and the driver’s license numbers of at least 10 million Americans.
“The scale of the theft was staggering. This theft not only caused significant financial damage to Equifax but invaded the privacy of many millions of Americans, and imposed substantial costs and burdens on them as they have had to take measures to protect against identity theft”, said US attorney general William Barr, and added:
“This was a deliberate and sweeping intrusion into the private information of the American people. Today, we hold PLA hackers accountable for their criminal actions, and we remind the Chinese government that we have the capability to remove the internet’s cloak of anonymity and find the hackers that nation repeatedly deploys against us”.
The four Chinese were identified as Wu Zhiyong, Wang Qian, Xu Ke and Liu Lei. They were members of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s 54th Research Institute, and face charges of conspiracy to commit computer fraud, conspiracy to commit economic espionage and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. They have not been arrested.
The rare case is only the second one in which federal prosecutors have charged members of the Chinese military. It comes amid increased US concerns about Chinese economic espionage and theft of intellectual property.

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