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US claims two Chinese hackers targeted defense companies, dissidents, and coronavirus research

The US Justice Department has charged two alleged Chinese hackers with stealing trade secrets and other valuable data from companies worldwide, including firms working on COVID-19 treatments and vaccines. Prosecutors claim some of the hacks were carried out on behalf of China’s Ministry of State Security, while others were done for personal profit. The pair are currently wanted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Li Xiaoyu (who goes by the handle “Oro01xy”) and Dong Jiazhi have allegedly been active since 2009. The Justice Department says it encountered the hackers after they compromised computers at the Department of Energy’s Hanford Site, which is home to a decommissioned nuclear production facility. In addition to this breach, they’re accused of infiltrating a wide swathe of software, defense, gaming, and biotech companies, often seeking proprietary data. At least one case saw them attempting to extort a company by threatening to publish its source code online.

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