FBI’s MOST WANTED – Chinese Generals!


May 19th

Sun Kailiang

Sun Kailiang

On the 1st May 2014 a United States grand jury in Pennsylvania indicted five Chinese military officials on 31 counts of cyber espionage. The five instantly jumped to the top of the FBI’s Cyber’s Most Wanted list and are all members of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

The indictment included: conspiring to commit computer fraud; accessing a computer without authorization for the purpose of commercial advantage and private financial gain; damaging computers through the transmission of code and commands; aggravated identity theft; economic espionage; and theft of trade secrets.

The five, Sun Kailiang, Wen Xinyu, Gu Chunhui , Huang Zhenyu, and Wang Dong are accused of targeting five U.S. companies and the Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union (USW).

The companies included Westinghouse Electric, U.S. subsidiaries of SolarWorld AG, Alcoa Inc, United States Steel Corp, Allegheny Technologies Inc and Allied Industrial

While the US government has previously admitted to cyber espionage; against the Iranian nuclear program creating the notorious Stuxnet virus, they don’t take to kindly to economic espionage. The FBI Director James B. Comey was quoted as stating that “For too long, the Chinese government has blatantly sought to use cyber espionage to obtain economic advantage for its state-owned industries, and continued by saying that “there are many more victims, and there is much more to be done”.

The indictment carries 31 total counts and all five are charged on all 31 counts. The world awaits the Chinese response.

Wen and Sun seem to be at the center of most of the allegations. Wen is allegedly responsible for stealing thousands of emails from senior USW employees, who at the time were involved in a public trade dispute with Chinese state-owned enterprises, stealing network credentials for most of the ATI employees and stealing large numbers of sensitive files from the SolarWorld network environment.

Sun is allegedly responsible for stealing confidential and proprietary technical and design specifications from Westinghouse and sending phishing email to both employees of U.S Steel and Alcoa resulting in the installation of malware that resulted in sensitive information leaking from the companies network.

In a 2011 report titled “Foreign Spies Stealing U.S. Economic Secrets in Cyberspace.” the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive stated that “Chinese actors are the world’s most active and persistent perpetrators of economic espionage.”

The majority of the past corporate targets of the alleged Chinese economic espionage seem to fit a familiar pattern. The targets are typically western companies with intellectual property useful to a country that is fast growing and hungry for new technology. Of course China is not the only country that fits this profile of fast growing and in need of western intellectual property, India, Russia and UAE would be another notable three.

Russia has always had a strong research and development mentality and would have internal capability to meet its hunger for new infrastructure. UAE has taken a path of paying for the knowledge, engaging with western companies on a large scale and India has taken the approach of buying strategic western companies, such as the British company Jaguar, to acquire the required knowledge to make world class automobiles.

Why is China so different? Most believe that it is because the Chinese political elite and business elite are often the same people or closely related. The Chinese have a concept called “Guanxi”, which is a general Chinese term used to describe relationships that may result in the exchanges of favours or “connections” that are beneficial for the parties involved.

If you are a struggling Chinese manufacture and require western IP to move forward on a project, it is not improbable that you call upon your “connections” within the PLA to help you out.

Huang Zhenyu

Wen Xinyu

Wang Dong

Gu Chunhui

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