cloudyn.png
Thursday February 20th, 2020 4:38AM

Chinese military stole masses of Americans' data, US says

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — Four members of the Chinese military have been charged with breaking into the networks of the Equifax credit reporting agency and stealing the personal information of tens of millions of Americans, the Justice Department said Monday, blaming Beijing for one of the largest hacks in history to target consumer data.

The 2017 breach affected more than 145 million people, with the hackers successfully stealing names, addresses, Social Security and driver's license numbers and other personal information stored in the company's databases.

The four — members of the People's Liberation Army, an arm of the Chinese military — are also accused of stealing the company's trade secrets, including database designs, law enforcement officials said.

The accused hackers exploited a software vulnerability to gain access to Equifax's computers, obtaining log-in credentials that they used to navigate databases and review records. The indictment also details efforts the hackers took to cover their tracks, including wiping log files on a daily basis and routing traffic through dozens of servers in nearly 20 countries.

“The scale of the theft was staggering," Attorney General William Barr said Monday. “This theft not only caused significant financial damage to Equifax, but invaded the privacy of many millions of Americans, and imposed substantial costs and burdens on them as they have had to take measures to protect against identity theft.”

Equifax, headquartered in Atlanta, maintains a massive repository of consumer information that it sells to businesses looking to verify identities or assess creditworthiness. All told, the indictment says, the company holds information on hundreds of millions of Americans in the U.S. and abroad,

The case is the latest Justice Department accusation against Chinese hackers suspected of breaching networks of American corporations. It comes as the Trump administration has warned against what it sees as the growing political and economic influence of China, and efforts by Beijing to collect data on Americans and steal scientific research and innovation.

The administration has also been pressing allies not to allow Chinese tech giant Huawei to be part of their 5G wireless networks due to concerns that the equipment could be used to collect data and for surveillance.

The accused hackers are based in China and none is in custody. But U.S. officials nonetheless view criminal charges like the ones brought in this case as a powerful deterrent to foreign hackers and a warning to other countries that American law enforcement has the capability to pinpoint individual culprits behind hacks.

A spokesperson for the Chinese embassy did not immediately return an email seeking comment Monday.

The case resembles a 2014 indictment from the Obama administration Justice Department that accused five members of the PLA of hacking into major American corporations to steal their trade secrets. U.S. authorities also suspect China in the massive 2015 breach of the Office of Personnel Management and of intrusions into the Marriott hotel chain and Anthem health insurance company.

“This kind of attack on American industry is of a piece with other Chinese illegal acquisitions of sensitive personal data," Barr said of Monday's announcement, adding that “for years we have witnessed China's voracious appetite for the personal data of Americans."

The criminal charges — which include conspiracy to commit computer fraud and conspiracy to commit economic espionage — were filed in federal court in Atlanta.

Equifax last year reached a $700 million settlement over the data breach, with the bulk of the funds intended for consumers affected by it.

Equifax didn’t notice the intruders targeting its databases for more than six weeks. Hackers exploited a known security vulnerability that Equifax hadn’t fixed.

Once inside the network, officials said, the hackers spent weeks conducting reconnaissance. They stole login credentials and ultimately downloaded and extractedate data from Equifax to computers outside the United States.

The indictment says the hackers obtained names, birth dates, and Social Security numbers for about 145 million American victims, along with credit card numbers and other personal information for about 200,000.

According to the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, a server hosting Equifax’s online dispute portal was running software with a known weak spot. The hackers jumped through the opening to reach databases containing consumers’ personal information.

Equifax officials told GAO the company made many mistakes, including having an outdated list of computer systems administrators. When the company circulated a notice to install a patch for the software vulnerability, the employees responsible for installing the patch never got it.

Equifax’s $700 million settlement with the U.S. government gives affected consumers free credit-monitoring and identity-restoration services, plus money for their time or reimbursement for certain services. However, because so many people made claims, officials said some consumers would get far less than the eligible amounts because of caps in the settlement pool.

______

Associated Press writer Nick Jesdanun in New York contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Business, AP Business - Corporate News, AP Online - Georgia News, AP Business - Economy, AP Technology News
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Barr: Justice has process to take Ukraine info from Giuliani
Attorney General William Barr says the Justice Department is collecting information that Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani is gathering in Ukraine about the president’s Democratic rival Joe Biden and his son
12:07PM ( 11 minutes ago )
More businesses reopen in China, but many people stay home
More  offices and stores in Beijing and other parts of China are reopening after the Lunar New Year break was extended to discourage travel and contain the new coronavirus, but many workers and shoppers appear to be staying home
12:04PM ( 14 minutes ago )
Chinese military stole masses of Americans' data, US says
The Justice Department says four members of the Chinese military have been charged with breaking into the computer networks of the Equifax credit reporting agency and stealing the personal information of tens of millions of Americans
11:59AM ( 18 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Weinstein rape trial winds down with more defense witnesses
A woman whose name came up in testimony from an accuser last week at Harvey Weinstein's rape trial is expected to offer her own version of the episode for the defense
11:24AM ( 54 minutes ago )
Irish election produces an earthquake as Sinn Fein tops poll
Ireland is bracing for weeks of political uncertainty after an earth-shaking election that saw the Irish Republican Army-linked party Sinn Fein win the biggest share of votes
11:19AM ( 58 minutes ago )
Trump's $4.8 trillion budget proposal revisits rejected cuts
President Donald Trump is offering a $4.8 trillion election year budget plan that recycles previously rejected cuts to domestic programs to promise a balanced budget in 15 years
10:47AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Bong's 'Parasite' focuses on plight of South Korea's poor
South Koreans are taking immense pride in the major Oscars haul for “Parasite,” writer-director Bong Joon Ho’s dark comic thriller that won this year’s Academy Awards for best film and best international feature
8:28AM ( 3 hours ago )
Drugs fail to slow decline in inherited Alzheimer's disease
Two experimental drugs have failed to prevent or slow mental decline in a study of people who are virtually destined to develop Alzheimer's disease at a relatively young age because of rare gene flaws
8:04AM ( 4 hours ago )
Elizabeth Warren's challenge: Breaking out of murky middle
Elizabeth Warren isn’t struggling like Joe Biden
7:21AM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Germany: Merkel's party in crisis as heir apparent quits
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's heir apparent has unexpectedly threw in the towel, plunging her conservative party into deeper crisis
9:43AM ( 2 hours ago )
Making Oscar history, 'Parasite' wins best picture
“Parasite” has won the best picture Oscar, becoming the first foreign-language film to take home the biggest honor in film
6:25AM ( 5 hours ago )
Merkel party's crisis deepens as designated successor quits
Angela Merkel's designated successor will quit her role as head of the Germany's strongest party and won't stand for the chancellorship following a debacle in a regional election
5:02AM ( 7 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
Sony, Amazon, others drop out of big tech show over virus
Sony, Amazon and Japan's NTT DoCoMo are the latest companies to pull out of a major European technology show over virus fears
11:26AM ( 52 minutes ago )
Now for sale at the mall ... the mall; Simon buys Taubman
The Simon Property Group will buy mall operator Taubman Realty in a deal valued at around $3.6 billion as those properties continue to struggle along with their retail tenants
10:58AM ( 1 hour ago )
Avenatti's request to limit his testimony rejected by judge
A judge has dealt a blow to California attorney Michael Avenatti's effort to limit his testimony if he takes the witness stand at his extortion trial
10:57AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
Volvo Cars and owner Geely consider merger deal
Swedish automaker Volvo Cars and its owner Chinese automaker Geely Holding are considering combining their businesses
9:51AM ( 2 hours ago )
Sony, Amazon, NTT drop out of big tech show over virus
Sony, Amazon and Japan's NTT DoCoMo are the latest companies to pull out of a major European technology show over virus fears
8:48AM ( 3 hours ago )
Sony, Amazon drop out of major European tech show over virus
Sony and Amazon are the latest companies to pull out of a major European technology show over virus fears
6:23AM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Business - Corporate News
Major stock indexes wobble in early trading on Wall Street
Stocks are wobbling between small gains and losses in early trading on Wall Street following a big gain from last week
9:44AM ( 2 hours ago )
Stocks decline amid warnings China virus still a threat
Global stocks are down after China reported an uptick in new virus cases and analysts warned optimism the disease is under control might be premature
7:41AM ( 4 hours ago )
Asia stocks decline amid warnings China virus still a threat
Global stocks have declined after China reported an uptick in new virus cases and analysts warned optimism the disease is under control might be premature
5:11AM ( 7 hours ago )
AP Business - Economy
Barr: Justice has process to take Ukraine info from Giuliani
Attorney General William Barr says the Justice Department is collecting information that Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani is gathering in Ukraine about the president’s Democratic rival Joe Biden and his son
12:07PM ( 11 minutes ago )
More businesses reopen in China, but many people stay home
More  offices and stores in Beijing and other parts of China are reopening after the Lunar New Year break was extended to discourage travel and contain the new coronavirus, but many workers and shoppers appear to be staying home
12:04PM ( 14 minutes ago )
In the heart of Mexico's violence, disillusion grows
Residents of a central Mexican city at the center of increasing nationwide violence say they are losing hope that things will turn around following yet another massacre
11:38AM ( 39 minutes ago )
Thai soldier's deadly rampage reveals security lapses
It's still unclear how a Thai soldier managed to steal heavy weapons from an army base which he then used to kill 29 people and hold off security forces for almost 16 hours while he was holed up in a popular shopping mall
11:34AM ( 44 minutes ago )
At least 6 killed as storm moves eastward across Europe
A strong winter storm has battered Europe with hurricane-force winds and heavy rains
11:33AM ( 45 minutes ago )