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28 November 2017, 01:03 | Rodolfo Wallace
A trio of Chinese hackers used phishing scams and malware to attack Moody's Analytics, Siemens AG and Trimble Inc., a Global Positioning System manufacturer, according to a federal indictment filed in Pittsburgh and unsealed Monday.
Prosecutors say Wu Yingzhuo, Dong Hao and Xia Lei hold themselves out as employees of of a purported internet-security firm in China called Boyusec, short for the Guangzhou Bo Yu Information Technology Company.
Another report claimed Boyusec was a government contractor that reported to the Guangdong Information Technology Security Evaluation Center (or Guangdong ITSEC), who is a local branch of the China Information Technology Evaluation Center (CNITSEC), an organization run by the Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS).
Researchers earlier this year identified a link between Boyusec and the Advanced Persistent Threat 3 hacking group allegedly responsible for stealing the blueprints for ASIO's new Canberra building in 2013.
Among the victims were Moodys Analytics, Siemens AG and Trimble.
Beginning in at least 2013, the defendants "and others known and unknown to the grand jury" used spearphishing emails containing malicious attachments or customized malware to hack into networks used by USA and foreign businesses, according to the indictment.
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They are alleged to have used email phishing scams and malware to try to steal business secrets.
The "ups" and "exeproxy" malware, if installed, gave the hackers access to targets' computers, allowing them to search for and copy over confidential business information as well as user credentials. The rule directed all emails to and from the employee's account to be forwarded to web-based email accounts controlled by the conspirators. "We rigorously monitor and protect our infrastructure and continually detect and hunt for breaches", the spokesperson said, but noted the company "does not comment on internal security matters".
In 2014, Dong accessed Siemens's computer networks for the goal of obtaining and using employees' usernames and passwords in order to access Siemens' network. Both Wu and Dong are founding members and shareholders, while Xia is just an employee. The hackers used that access to steal usernames and passwords belonging to Siemens employees and proprietary commercial data stored by the company.
The Chinese nationals face charges of computer hacking, theft of trade secrets, conspiracy and identity theft.
All three indicted suspects are still at large and residing in China.
The hackers have also been charged with wire fraud, facing a maximum 20 years in prison, and agggravated identity theft.
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