Info@NationalCyberSecurity
Info@NationalCyberSecurity

Chinese Nationals Charged With Hacking Senior Staffers For 2020 Presidential Campaign | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker


Seven Chinese nationals on Monday were accused by the Justice Department of targeting American journalists and political figures, including senior members of a 2020 presidential campaign team, in a wide-ranging hacking operation. 

The defendants, Ni Gaobin, Weng Ming, Cheng Feng, Peng Yaow, Sun Xiaohui, Xiong Wang, and Zhao Guangzong, are accused of aiding a Chinese-backed hacking group in support of China’s Ministry of State Security’s foreign political and business espionage as well as surveillance of Hong Kong democracy activists and the Uyghur people. The seven allegedly worked for the Hubei State Security Department, which surveilled thousands of American politicians, academics, journalists, and businessmen from 2010 to 2024, according to the indictment

“These allegations pull back the curtain on China’s vast illegal hacking operation that targeted sensitive data from U.S. elected and government officials, journalists and academics; valuable information from American companies; and political dissidents in America and abroad. Their sinister scheme victimized thousands of people and entities across the world, and lasted for well over a decade,” said U.S. Attorney Breon Peace. 

During one operation during the Trump administration that lasted from June to September 2018, hackers targeted Republican and Democrat senators from more than 10 states, White House officials, members of the Departments of Justice, Commerce, Treasury, and State, and members of Congress with malicious emails, the indictment said. These emails were reportedly also sent to the spouses of some of the political figures. 

In a different operation, multiple European politicians were targeted, including members of the European Union and more than three dozen parliamentary accounts in the United Kingdom, as part of surveillance into a group of politicians examining threats from the Chinese Communist Party.  

During the 2020 presidential election cycle, a non-specified campaign was targeted by hackers.

“In or about May 2020, the Conspirators began targeting email accounts belonging to several senior campaign staff members for a presidential campaign,” the indictment says. “In or about November 2020, the Conspirators sent emails containing tracking links to targets associated with additional political campaigns, including a retired senior U.S. government national security official.”

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The DOJ said in a press release that campaign staffers for Republicans and Democrats had been targeted ahead of the 2020 election but did not specify the campaigns or races. 

The indictment also said that millions of Americans were caught up in the hacking scheme, with phone call records, cloud storage accounts, and email accounts all being exposed. 

“America’s sovereignty extends to its cyberspace,” Peace added. “Today’s charges demonstrate my Office’s commitment to upholding and protecting that jurisdiction, and to putting an end to malicious nation state cyber activity.”

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