U.S. sanctions Chinese hackers for cyber attacks

Attorney General Merrick Garland said the Chinese government has attempted to intimidate Americans who serve the public.

The United States has imposed sanctions on China-based hackers who allegedly targeted critical infrastructure. 

The Treasury Department announced the sanctions on Monday. 


Driving the news: According to the Treasury Department, Wuhan Xiaoruizhi Science and Technology Company Ltd. (Wuhan XRZ) – which is a Ministry of State Security front company – has served as cover for cyber attacks. 

  • The United Kingdom joined the United States with the sanctions. 
  • Wuhan XRZ was allegedly behind the 2020 spear phishing operation against the U.S. Naval Academy and other operations. 

The big picture: The U.S. Justice Department has indicted seven employees and contractors from Wuhan XRZ on charges of targeting U.S. public officials and critical infrastructure, stealing from American businesses, and threatening U.S. national security.

  • The indicted defendants allegedly posed as journalists to infiltrate high-ranking government officials’ email accounts and install a “tracking link” when the email was opened.
  • The hacking activities allegedly resulted in the compromise of personal and work email accounts, telephone call records belonging to millions of Americans, and the release of economic plans, intellectual property, and U.S. technology trade secrets to the Chinese government.
  • The sanctioned hackers were allegedly responsible for numerous cyberattacks, including targeting Norwegian officials who awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to activists in the Hong Kong democracy movement and hacking into economic and defense companies.

What they’re saying: “The Justice Department will not tolerate efforts by the Chinese government to intimidate Americans who serve the public, silence the dissidents who are protected by American laws, or steal from American businesses,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland in a statement. “This case serves as a reminder of the ends to which the Chinese government is willing to go to target and intimidate its critics, including launching malicious cyber operations aimed at threatening the national security of the United States and our allies.”

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