US says Chinese nationals hacked defense contractors, COVID-19 research

Two Chinese nationals obtained terabytes of information on weapons design, software source code, and COVID-19 data, according to the charges lodged by the US Justice Department.

The Reuters’ report said the agency sees the hacking accusation as a “decade-long cyber espionage campaign” hacking their way into US defense and research contractors.

The indictment of Li Xiaoyu and Dong Jiazhi was done on July 7. The two are said to be contractors for China’s Ministry of State Security, which according to US officials, “supplied the hackers with information into the critical software vulnerabilities to penetrate targets and collect intelligence.”

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Reuters report further said that the two targeted the Dalai Lama and Hong Kong protesters, who are openly critical of the Chinese government. However, the US officials said that there hundreds of victims around the world.

What prompted officials to investigate was when the hackers tried to penetrate the Hanford Site network, “a decommissioned U.S. nuclear complex in eastern Washington state, in 2015,” the Reuters report said.

While officials said the hackers attempted to obtain COVID-19 vaccine research material from a Massachusetts biotech firm, there was no confirmation if they were successful.