U.S. Charges Five Chinese Military Officers with Cyber Espionage

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The U.S. Department of Justice yesterday announced that a grand jury in Pennsylvania has indicted five Chinese military hackers for computer hacking, economic espinonage and other offenses directed at Westinghouse, SolarWorld, U.S. Steel, Alcoa, ATI and United Steelworkers.

The five defendants are Wang Dong, Sun Kailiang, Wen Xinyu, Huang Zhenyu, and Gu Chunhui. All five were officers in Unit 61398 of the Third Department of the Chinese People's Liberation Army.

The indictment alleges that the five conspired to hack into U.S. companies in order to steal information that would be useful to their competitors in China, including state-owned enterprises.

Sun allegedly stole proprietary technical and design specifications from Westinghouse in 2010 while the company was building four power plants in China and negotiating terms of the construction with a Chinese state-owned enterprise. Wen allegedly stole proprietary information from SolarWorld in 2012, Wang and Sun allegedly stole proprietary information from U.S. Steel in 2010, and Wen allegedly stole network credentials from ATI in 2010, among other allegations.

"The range of trade secrets and other sensitive business information stolen in this case is significant and demands an aggressive response," U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement. "Success in the global market place should be based solely on a company’s ability to innovate and compete, not on a sponsor government’s ability to spy and steal business secrets. This Administration will not tolerate actions by any nation that seeks to illegally sabotage American companies and undermine the integrity of fair competition in the operation of the free market."