"This case is significant because the defendants are accused of targeting and compromising Managed Service Providers, or MSPs". Commercial secrets from Australian businesses may have been exposed.
This is also not the first time that the USA has charged Chinese hackers on accusations of hacking on orders from the Beijing government. Both men were charged with "conspiracy to commit computer intrusions, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft".
China has denied the claims.
But the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said there was no suggestion the campaign was targeting New Zealand's general public or small to medium enterprises.
US officials say two Chinese citizens acting on behalf of their country's main intelligence agency carried out an extensive hacking campaign to steal data from government agencies and companies in the United States and almost a dozen other countries, including Canada.
U.S. authorities on Thursday unveiled indictments against two Chinese nationals linked to China's government who reportedly took part in a cyber spying campaign that hacked a range of American government agencies and corporations and violated a 2015 pact, escalating tensions between the two nations.
Chinese espionage efforts have become "the most severe counterintelligence threat facing our country today", Bill Priestap, the assistant director of the FBI's counterintelligence division, told the committee.
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"China's goal, simply put, is to replace the USA as the world's leading superpower-and they're breaking the law to get there".
"APEC economies agreed they should not conduct or support ICT-enabled theft of intellectual property or other confidential business information, for commercial advantage". "America and its many allies know what China's doing, we know why they're doing it and in some cases we even know exactly who is sitting at the keyboard perpetrating these crimes in association with the Chinese government".
Nasa said it did not believe agency missions were jeopardized by the hacking and took immediate action to secure affected servers.
"It helps them compete in a way that we can't". "It's no surprise that China has this too", he said.
The Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) report on Chinese spying represents a small, new chapter in the weeks of increasing tension between China and the U.S. both on trade and cyber-security issues, causing global financial market jitters and contributing to the absence of the typical end of year "Santa rally" in global equity markets.
Beginning in about 2014, the APT10 Group engaged in a campaign to get unauthorised access over an extended period of time to computers and computer networks of MSPs for businesses and governments around the world using malware to steal user names and passwords of employees, USA authorities said.
Since then, China has detained Canadian citizens, in what observers say is an apparent bid to pressure Ottawa into releasing the Huawei executive.
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And the Federal Bureau of Investigation put the defendants on a wanted poster.
It is understood that the MSPs did not always respond to warnings as robustly as authorities would have liked. According to the official, some have resisted telling their own clients about the problem.
"We have no evidence that our environment has been compromised by this threat".
GCHQ's summary (PDF, 6 pages) of APT10's tactics said: "Industry partners have reported that data exfiltrated often relates to human resources information, suggesting an interest in the targeted company specifically, as well as potentially developing access to customers and suppliers".
NASA and the US Navy were among those allegedly targeted in a programme the US Justice Department said also hit a major bank, telecom companies and healthcare providers in 12 countries.
Nick McKenzie is a leading investigative journalist.
Earlier this morning the USA justice department announced criminal charges against two computer hackers said to be connected to the MSS.
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