Chinese Citizens Charged For Infamous Anthem Hack

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US Justice Department has indicted Chinese citizens for Anthem hack and other attacks on US businesses

Justice may move slowly but it does move, after the US Department of Justice revealed a federal grand jury has returned an indictment against two Chinese citizens.

The two Chinese nationals, Fujie Wang (aged 32) and another individual charged as John Doe, are charged after they allegedly “conducted a campaign of intrusions into US-based computer systems..

These intrusions included the infamous hack of US healthcare provider Anthem. In early 2015 Anthem, revealed that it had been a victim of a “very sophisticated external cyber attack”.

US charges

The Anthem attack was hugely damaging, after it resulted in the compromise of 78 million customer and staff records.

The hackers were able to access customer data including names, birthdays, medical IDs/social security numbers, street addresses, email addresses and employment information, including income data.

Soon after the hack, American investigators revealed they were pursuing evidence that Chinese state-sponsored hackers had been stealing personal information from US healthcare companies.

“A federal grand jury returned an indictment unsealed today in Indianapolis, Indiana, charging a Chinese national as part of an extremely sophisticated hacking group operating in China and targeting large businesses in the United States, including a computer intrusion and data breach of Indianapolis-based health insurer Anthem Inc. (Anthem),” said the DoJ.

The DoJ did not identify the other hacked companies by name (one victim was reportedly the US government itself), but Indianapolis is where Anthem is headquartered.

“As part of this international computer hacking scheme, the indictment alleges that beginning in February 2014, the defendants used sophisticated techniques to hack into the computer networks of the victim businesses without authorisation,” the indictment reads.

The hackers “installed malware and tools on the compromised computer systems to further compromise the computer networks of the victim businesses, after which they identified data of interest on the compromised computers, including personally identifiable information (PII) and confidential business information.”

Brazen Chinese

“The allegations in the indictment unsealed today outline the activities of a brazen China-based computer hacking group that committed one of the worst data breaches in history,” said Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski. “These defendants allegedly attacked US businesses operating in four distinct industry sectors, and violated the privacy of over 78 million people by stealing their PII.”

“The cyber attack of Anthem not only caused harm to Anthem, but also impacted tens of millions of Americans,” said US Attorney Minkler. “This wanton violation of privacy will not stand, and we are committed to bringing those responsible to justice. I would also like to thank Anthem for its timely and substantial cooperation with our investigation.”

Wang and Doe are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit fraud and related activity in relation to computers and identity theft, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and two substantive counts of intentional damage to a protected computer.

Anthem settled lawsuits about the hacking attack in July 2017, paying out $115m in the end.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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