Justice Department levies charges against 2 Chinese hackers

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The British government said the hacking campaign, which stretched across Europe, Asia and the U.S., was in breach of Chinese global commitments.

The court document said "compromised clients" included companies in banking and finance, oil and gas exploration, mining, telecommunication, biotechnology, and consumer electronics.

The victims of the United States included several government agencies - Jet Propulsion Laboratory and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre, the United States navy, and the department of energy's Lawrence Berkeley national laboratory, from where more than of 100,000 personnel details were hatched and stolen. "China's goal, simply put, is to replace the U.S.as the world's leading super power, and they're using illegal methods to get there".

They are accused of stealing USA trade secrets and a host of other sensitive information on behalf of Beijing's main intelligence agency, Associated Press explained.

More than 90 per cent of Justice Department economic espionage cases in the past seven years involve China, Deputy Attorney-General Rod Rosenstein, and more than two-thirds of trade secrets cases were connected to the country.

"The allegation itself will give rise to some suspicion, at least, among the worldwide public, that these hacking activities are actually supported by the Chinese state", he said. However this comes as increasing pressure is applied against China from the Five Eyes intelligence nations, which includes New Zealand.

APT10 stole "hundreds of gigabytes" of sensitive data and information from its targets, invading their systems through the hacked MSPs.

The Foreign Ministry claimed the United States is the real cyber-espionage culprit, saying "it is no longer a secret that the USA conducts large-scale monitoring campaigns watching foreign governments, enterprises, and individuals".

The list of victims is a list of "who's who of the global economy", said DOJ officials in a press conference yesterday, also revealing that allied governments were also preparing supporting statements.

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The hackers, working in association with China's intelligence service, targeted "manager service providers" (MSPs).

"The US making unwarranted criticisms of China in the name of so-called "cyber stealing" is blaming others while oneself is to be blamed, and is self-deception".

Another news agency went as far as to point out that the U.S. has hacked China in the past, and the Chinese government is only now finding out the extent of those hacks.

On Thursday, the Department of Justice unsealed an indictment against Chinese nationals Zhu Hua and Zhang Shilong.

Where the U.S. has been vocal in recent months, this is the first time the United Kingdom has spoken out - perhaps because it has been concerned about risking trade ties and getting pulled into the Trump administration's broader confrontation with Beijing.

The hackers are part of a group called APT10 that attacked managed IT service providers to obtain intellectual property and trade secrets from across the world.

Rosenstein said the threats posed by the hacking operation, which dates back to 2006, had never been more severe or more pervasive, and were part of China's ultimate goal to replace the United States as the world's leading superpower.

"It has always been an open secret for the relevant departments of the United States to conduct large-scale and organised network theft and monitoring and monitoring activities against foreign governments, enterprises and individuals", said the statement, attributed to foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying.

Nasa said it did not believe agency missions were jeopardised by the hacking and took immediate action to secure affected servers.