US charges 4 Chinese military ‘hackers’ in Equifax breach
The United States charged four Chinese military infiltrators with penetration of the American credit reporting agency Equifax in 2017, a breach that affected nearly 150 million US citizens, according to US Attorney General William Barr.
“This was a deliberate and sweeping breach of private information to the American people,” Barr said of one of the biggest data breaches in US history.
He added: “These data have economic value, and these thefts could fuel China’s ability to develop artificial intelligence tools.”
Equifax affected nearly 147 million people, and the stolen information included social security numbers and driver’s license data. The hackers have spent weeks on Equifax, hacking computer networks and stealing company secrets and personal data. Then they filled about 9,000 inquiries, taking the names, birth dates, and social security numbers of nearly half of all US citizens. The hackers used about 34 servers located in 20 countries to direct traffic in order to block their real site.
The breach – given the vast amount of sensitive financial data and information on many Americans – has had far-reaching implications for Equifax and the consumer credit sector. The company agreed to pay up to $ 700 million to settle allegations of violations of the law during the data breach, and to pay the affected consumers.
The announcement is the latest in an offensive campaign by the US authorities to eradicate Chinese espionage operations. Since 2018, the United States has caught a growing group of Chinese government officials, businessmen, and academics who are allegedly spying on American secrets.