The US Department of Justice has charged today ten Chinese nationals for conspiring to hack and steal intellectual property and confidential data from US and European companies.
The DOJ says that two of the ten are Chinese intelligence officers, six served as hackers, and two were insiders at a French aerospace manufacturer.
“The charged intelligence officers, Zha Rong and Chai Meng, and other co-conspirators, worked for the Jiangsu Province Ministry of State Security (‘JSSD’), headquartered in Nanjing, which is a provincial foreign intelligence arm of the People’s Republic of China’s Ministry of State Security (‘MSS’),” the DOJ said today in a press release.
US officials claim that between January 2010 to May 2015, the two JSSD intelligence officers “and their team of hackers” focused their efforts on stealing technology related to a new turbofan engine developed by an unnamed French aerospace manufacturer and a US-based counterpart.
The DOJ alleges that with help from the two insiders, the JSSD intelligence officers coordinated a team of five hackers in hacking the French company and stealing its proprietary turbofan engine technology.
Furthermore, US investigators say the five hackers –identified as Zhang Zhang-Gui, Liu Chunliang, Gao Hong Kun, Zhuang Xiaowei, and Ma Zhiqi– also breached aerospace companies based in Arizona, Massachusetts, and Oregon –which manufactured parts for the turbofan engine.
The DOJ believes that the stolen information was used to aid an unnamed Chinese state-owned aerospace company develop “a comparable engine.”
The indictment also names a sixth hacker, named Li Xiao, who worked with one of the JSSD intelligence officers, Zhang Zhang-Gui, to hack into a San Diego-based technology company for their personal gains.
None of the ten accused men are in US custody.
At the start of the month, the US arrested and extradited a high-ranking director in China’s Ministry of State Security (MSS) after the official had attempted to recruit several insiders from multiple US aviation and aerospace companies.
This is a developing story. The article will be added in the coming hours with information from the DOJ indictment.