The U.S. Justice Department announced charges against ten Chinese intelligence agents for hacking into computer systems belonging to U.S. and international companies to steal aerospace technology and data.
The indictment, revealed earlier this week accuses agents working for the Jiangsu Province Ministry of State Security (JSSD) of conspiring “to steal sensitive commercial technological, aviation, and aerospace data by hacking into computers in the United States and abroad.”
While the companies targeted by the hacking operation weren’t named directly, they include areospace contractors and suppliers in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Oregon, California, as well as multinational companies in the UK and France. The alleged goal of the hacking was to acquire information “related to a turbofan engine used in commercial jetliners” and “to steal sensitive data from these companies that could be used by Chinese entities to build the same or similar engine without incurring substantial research and development expenses.”
“This action is yet another example of criminal efforts by the (Ministry of State Security) to facilitate the theft of private data for China’s commercial gain,” said U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman.
Several prosecutions have been brought against Chinese military and government officials for utilizing hacking as a means to steal intellectual property and business information from high-tech companies. China and the United States don’t currently have an extradition treaty and none of the agents charged are in custody, although China did extradite an accused spy earlier this month who was accused of stealing aerospace information.
Hacking activities originating from China have increased recently following President Trump’s escalation of trade disputes between the two countries.