Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News
Sunday, December 03, 2017

Prosecutors in the United States this week quietly outed what appears to be a Chinese state-linked hacking ring, an escalation in Washington's campaign to pressure China over its trade practices and efforts to steal intellectual property from U.S. firms. In an indictment unsealed on Monday, federal prosecutors in Pittsburgh allege that a trio of Chinese nationals and their cybersecurity firm Boyusec hacked three companies -- industrial giant Siemens, the economic analysis firm Moody's, and the GPS navigation company Trimble -- and made off with sensitive company documents. Prosecutors made no mention in court documents of any links between Boyusec and the Chinese state, a departure from a high-profile case in 2014 from the same office that publicly linked alleged hackers to Chinese government ministries. Then, the local FBI office drew up wanted posters of the Chinese army hackers and published photographs of the accused in their army uniforms.

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But a trove of public evidence and research by private security firms strongly suggests that Boyusec is an affiliate of China's powerful Ministry of State Security and appears to operate as a cover for cyber-espionage.

"There has been a lot of accumulated evidence that these guys are tied to the state," said John Hultquist, the director of analysis for the computer security firm FireEye.

Despite the seemingly clear links between Boyusec and the Ministry of State Security, American officials have described the case as a routine criminal prosecution rather than one that implicates a Chinese intelligence agency.

"The indictment makes no allegations regarding state sponsorship," said Justice Department spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle, who added that prosecutors only "included the allegations that we are prepared to prove in court with admissible evidence."

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There could be several reasons for a cautious approach from the department. The evidence linking Boyusec to the Chinese government could be weak, or too sensitive, to reveal in open court. At the same time, Washington and Beijing are trying to work together to rein in North Korea's increasingly brazen weapons program, which could counsel a more cautious approach to naming and shaming. (U.S. and Chinese defense officials met Wednesday.)

Though fairly obscure, Boyusec was known to U.S. officials. In November 2016, a Defense Department intelligence assessment reportedly concluded that Boyusec was close to the Ministry of State Security and that it was working with the tech giant Huawei to "produce security products that will be loaded into Chinese-manufactured computer and telephone equipment," according to the Washington Free Beacon.

"The doctored products will allow Chinese intelligence to capture data and control computer and telecommunications equipment," the paper reported, citing anonymous officials. Pentagon officials did not respond to questions this week about the report.


Spicy ongoings in the cyberworld.

#1 | Posted by GOnoles92 at 2017-12-03 11:37 AM | Reply

I wonder if China is on Putin's side?

#2 | Posted by Tor at 2017-12-04 12:14 AM | Reply

These guys, along with many other countries, have so much dirt on each other that all of them are hesitant to ever outright accuse another country of cyberespionage and provide proof. Once one does it, many others will offer their proof that the accuser has done it as well. Hell, you can out any major country just based on honeypot forensics alone.

#3 | Posted by humtake at 2017-12-04 11:38 AM | Reply

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