US metal firms said targets of Chinese spying

May 19, 2014 | 02:57 PM | Michael Cowden

Tags  hacking, China, People's Liberation Army, FBI, James B. Comey, Justice Department, Eric Holder, U.S. Steel USW

CHICAGO — Chinese hackers allegedly have stolen sensitive economic data from U.S. metal companies, including U.S. Steel Corp. and Alcoa Inc.

The U.S. Justice Department has charged five "Chinese military hackers" with cyber spying for allegedly breaking into the computers of companies with business in China or involved in trade petitions against Chinese competitors.

Victims of the alleged hacking include U.S. Steel, Alcoa, Allegheny Technologies Inc. (ATI), Westinghouse Electric Corp. and the United Steelworkers union, all based in Pittsburgh, the Justice Department said in a release May 19. Also among the alleged victims was Bonn, Germany-based solar energy company SolarWorld AG.

The hacking was part of an effort beginning in 2006, led by a People’s Liberation Army signals-intelligence group known as "Unit 61398," to create a secret database of corporate intelligence on the iron and steel industries for a state-owned company in China, according to a May 1 indictment recently unsealed. The company was not named in the indictment.

The indictment represents only a first step, given that there are "many more" victims, FBI director James B. Comey said in a statement. "For too long, the Chinese government has blatantly sought to use cyber espionage to obtain economic advantage for its state-owned industries," he said.....

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