The US Justice Department had charged four members of China’s People’s Liberation Army for the Equifax Hack in 2017. This hack had been termed one of the largest data breaches in US history.
Equifax Inc. is one of the three largest consumer credit reporting agencies, along with Experian and TransUnion. It collects and aggregates information on over 800 million individual consumers and more than 88 million businesses worldwide.
Equifax said hackers accessed the information between mid-May and the end of July 2017 when the company discovered the breach. The accused allegedly routed traffic through 34 servers in nearly 20 countries to try to hide their true location.
According to BBC, more than 147 million Americans were affected in 2017 when hackers stole sensitive personal data including names and addresses. It also affected some UK and Canadian customers.
The indictment implicated four alleged Chinese military hackers, namely; Wu Zhiyong, Wang Qian, Xu Ke and Liu Lei. CNet reported that FBI deputy director David Bowdich said at a press conference on 10th February 2020:
“This is the largest theft of sensitive [personally identifiable information] by state-sponsored hackers ever recorded.”
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The US Chinese embassy had denied the accusation that China’s government knew anything about the hack. China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said on Tuesday, 11th February 2020:
“The Chinese government, military and relevant personnel never engage in cyber theft of trade secrets. It has long been an open secret that the US government and relevant departments,
in violation of international law and basic norms governing international relations, have been engaging in large-scale, organized and indiscriminate cyber stealing, spying and surveillance activities on foreign governments, enterprises and individuals.”
Equifax CEO Mark Begor was clearly happy with the verdict. Begor thanked the Justice Department for its investigation. He also acknowledged that it’s increasingly difficult to protect companies and keep hackers out.
“The attack on Equifax was an attack on U.S. consumers as well as the United States.”
The Equifax hack is another bad representation for the Chinese authorities and by extension, tech companies in the country. Earlier, we had reported a suspected backdoor in Huawei HiSilicon-powered chips. Huawei has however vindicated itself from the accusations.
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