William Barr: US charges 4 Chinese military hackers in 2017 Equifax breach | World News


WASHINGTON: Four members of the Chinese military have been charged with breaking into the networks of the Equifax credit reporting agency and stealing the personal data of tens of millions of Americans, the US justice department said on Monday, blaming Beijing for one of the largest hacks in history to target consumer data.
The 2017 breach affected more than 145 million people, with the hackers successfully stealing names, addresses, social security and driver’s licence numbers and other personal information stored in the company’s databases. The four — members of the People’s Liberation Army, an arm of the Chinese military — are also accused of stealing the company’s trade secrets, including database designs, law enforcement officials said.
The accused hackers exploited a software vulnerability to gain access to Equifax’s computers, obtaining log-in credentials that they used to navigate databases and review records. The indictment also details efforts the hackers took to cover their tracks, including wiping log files on a daily basis and routing traffic through dozens of servers in nearly 20 countries. “The scale of the theft was staggering,” Attorney General William Barr said on Monday. “This theft not only caused significant financial damage to Equifax, but invaded the privacy of many millions of Americans.”
The case is the latest justice department accusation against Chinese hackers suspected of breaching networks of American corporations. It comes as the Trump administration has warned against what it sees as the growing political and economic influence of China, and efforts by Beijing to collect data on Americans and steal scientific research and innovation.
The accused hackers are based in China and none is in custody. But US officials nonetheless view criminal charges like the ones brought in this case as a powerful deterrent to foreign hackers and a warning to other countries. A spokesperson for the Chinese embassy didn’t immediately return an email seeking comment on Monday.

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