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A New Kind of Attack

Five Chinese military hackers who were officers in Unit 61398 of the Third Department of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army were indicted by a grand jury in the Western District of Pennsylvania on charges of computer hacking, economic espionage, and other offenses directed at six American victim entities. This case marks the first time that criminal charges have been filed against known state actors for hacking.
From 2006 to 2014 these individuals were allegedly involved in a hacking conspiracy targeted towards a few well known American Industrial companies including Westinghouse Electric Co.; U.S. subsidiaries of SolarWorld AG; United States Steel Corp.; Allegheny Technologies Inc.; the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union; and Alcoa, Inc.
State sponsored programs such as this one surely undermine America’s security as an industrial powerhouse. Many in the Obama Administration blame the highly publicized failure of Solyndra on the ability of the Chinese to access information and replicate American technology at a margin of the price. Responding to the outcome, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said, “The range of trade secrets and other sensitive business information stolen in this case is significant and demands an aggressive response.” When attacks such as these are carried out, they have the ability to skew the global market and make competition unfair.
FBI Director James B. Money claims, “For too long, the Chinese government has blatantly sought to use cyber espionage to obtain economic advantages for its state-owned industries.” He explains how this indictment is an important step, but not the end of the battle and that it is in both the interest of the United States and China to continue to work for each others interest as our economies become increasingly integrated.



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