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US announces charges against Chinese, Malaysian hackers

AFP
Washington
The US Justice Department on Wednesday announced charges against five Chinese nationals and two Malaysians who ran global hacking operations for at least six years to steal identities and video game technology, plant ransomware, and spy on Hong Kong activists.
Three of the Chinese suspects operated out of Chengdu 404, a Sichuan-based company that purported to offer network security services for other businesses.
They hacked the computers of hundreds of companies and organizers around the world to collect identities, hijack systems for ransom, and remotely use thousands of computers to mine for cryptocurrency like bitcoin.
Two other Chinese nationals who formerly worked for Chengdu 404, and the two Malaysians, were indicted for hacking into major gaming companies to steal their secrets and “gaming artifacts,” likely tradable in-game chits and credits, and resell them.
Together the seven were long recognized by cybersecurity experts as the “APT41” hacking organization, identified by their shared tools and techniques.
While some had thought that the group could be run by the Chinese government, the indictments did not identify a strong official connection.
But according to court filings, Jiang Lizhi, one of the Chengdu 404 hackers, boasted to a colleague in 2012 that he was protected by China’s Ministry of State Security, and indicated they were protected if they did not hack domestically.