US charges seven in wide-ranging Chinese hacking effort

The US Department of Justice building is bathed in morning light at sunrise in Washington, US, February 14, 2020. — Reuters pic

WASHINGTON, Sept 16 — The US Justice Department said today it has charged five Chinese residents and two Malaysian businessmen in a wide-ranging hacking effort.

Federal prosecutors said five Chinese nationals had been charged with hacking more than 100 companies in the United States and abroad, including software development companies, computer manufacturers, telecommunications providers, social media companies, video game companies, non-profit organizations, universities, think-tanks as well as foreign governments and pro-democracy politicians and activists in Hong Kong.

The government also said two Malaysian businessmen, Wong Ong Hua, 46, and Ling Yang Ching, 32, were charged with conspiring with two of the Chinese hackers to profit from computer intrusions targeting videogame companies in the United States, France, Japan, Singapore and South Korea.

The Justice Department said the pair operated through a Malaysian firm called SEA Gamer Mall. Messages left with the company were not immediately returned. Messages sent to email addresses allegedly maintained by the hackers also received no immediate response. The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

The Justice Department said it has obtained search warrants this month resulting in the seizure of hundreds of accounts, servers, domain names and “dead drop” Web pages used by the hackers to help siphon data from their victims.

The Department said Microsoft Corp had developed measures to block the hackers and that the company’s actions “were a significant part” of the overall US effort to neutralise them. — Reuters