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Justice Department Charges Five
By Harold Hutchison

For the first time, the Justice Department has charged five ChiCom military officials with cyber-espionage, citing attacks on a number of American companies, including Alcoa, U.S. Steel, and Westinghouse Electric.

ChiCom Jiangkai-class frigate.
(U.S. Navy photo)

CBSNews.com reported that five individuals, Wang Dong, Sun Kailiang, Wen Xinyu, Huang Zhenyu, and Gu Chunhui were named in the indictment. The five were reportedly members of a People’s Liberation Army command, Unit 61398 of the Third Department.

According to media reports, the ChiCom officials carried out what DOJ prosecutors called “21st century burglary.” The ChiComs have been accused of carrying out cyber-attacks and cyber-espionage in recent years. Among recent incidents include an effort to steal data on the F-35 Lighting, data that was later used for the PLAAF’s J-20, a fifth-generation fighter in development.

“This case should serve as a wake-up call to the seriousness of the ongoing cyber-threat,” Attorney General Eric Holder said while announcing the indictments. Holder was later quoted by CBSNews.com as saying, “The range of trade secrets and other sensitive business information stolen in this case is significant and demands an aggressive response.”

The ChiComs condemned the indictment, claiming that they are facing many hacking attacks. Operations by the National Security Agency that targeted ChiCom networks were exposed by self-proclaimed whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013.