The US Justice Department on Monday accused five Chinese military officials of cyber espionage. The defendants are being accused of stealing data from six US companies and unions.
Attorney general Eric Holder told reporters at a press conference on Monday that the US plans on bringing the Chinese officials to the US to face the charges. A press release published on the FBI website states that this is the ‘first time criminal charges are filed against known state actors for hacking”. It says further: “The indictment alleges that the defendants conspired to hack into American entities to maintain unauthorized access to their computers and to steal information from those entities that would be useful to their competitors in China, including state-owned enterprises (SOEs).” Accused are five Chinese military officials who are members of the People’s Liberation Army cyber unit known as Unit 61398.
The accusations come shortly after the Snowden revelations made clear that at least some of the National Security Agency’s surveillance program carried an economic benefit. Some media suggest that the recent charges could backfire on the NSA.