The U.S. Justice Department has filed the first-ever criminal charges for cyber economic espionage against a state actor, according to a U.S. government official familiar with the case. The charges name several Chinese government officials, accusing them of using military and intelligence facilities to steal trade secrets from American energy and manufacturing companies.
We allege that members of unit 61398 conspired to hack into computers of six U.S. victims to steal information that would provide an economic advantage to the victims’ competitors, including Chinese state-owned enterprises.
In the past, when we brought concerns such as these to Chinese government officials, they responded by publicly challenging us to provide hard evidence of their hacking that could stand up in court.
Well today, we are.
For the first time, we are exposing the faces and names behind the keyboards in Shanghai used to steal from American businesses.
Unit 61398 was specifically mentioned in the Mandiant Report last year.
From AP, (February, 2013):
Unit 61398 of the People’s Liberation Army has been recruiting computer experts for at least a decade. It has made no secret of details of community life such as badminton matches and kindergarten, but its apparent purpose became clear only when a U.S. Internet security firm accused it of conducting a massive hacking campaign against North American targets.
Hackers with the Chinese unit have been active for years, using online handles such as “UglyGorilla,” Virginia-based firm Mandiant said in a report released Tuesday as the U.S. prepared to crack down on countries responsible for cyber espionage. The Mandiant report plus details collected by The Associated Press depict a highly specialized community of Internet warriors working from a blocky white building in Shanghai.