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US To Charge Chinese Military Employees With Hacking 225

Posted by samzenpus
from the don't-hack-me-bro dept.
jfruh (300774) writes "The U.S. federal government will announce today indictments of several employees of the Chinese military with hacking into computers to steal industrial secrets. The indictments will be the first of their kind against employees of a foreign government. Among the trade secrets allegedly stolen by the accused are information about a nuclear power plant design and a solar panel company's cost and pricing data."
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US To Charge Chinese Military Employees With Hacking

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  • Vs the NSA (Score:5, Informative)

    by Rick Zeman (15628) on Monday May 19, 2014 @10:22AM (#47037991)

    Which just steals secrets from the states, vs corporate secrets and giving them to GM, Apple, General Electric, etc.

    • Re:Vs the NSA (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gl4ss (559668) on Monday May 19, 2014 @10:29AM (#47038045) Homepage Journal

      yeah it's weird in that regard that they went for opening that pandoras box... the chinese will just indict in response.

      • Re:Vs the NSA (Score:4, Interesting)

        by erikkemperman (252014) on Monday May 19, 2014 @10:53AM (#47038253)

        TFS and TFA are both ridiculously vague.

        How exactly does this work, in terms of jurisdiction? Is this a case for the ICC? WTO?

        Or is it now (officially) the position of USJ that its jurisdiction covers the whole planet?

      • Re:Vs the NSA (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Bob9113 (14996) on Monday May 19, 2014 @10:55AM (#47038263) Homepage

        yeah it's weird in that regard that they went for opening that pandoras box... the chinese will just indict in response.

        Weird enough that it has me trying to figure out why they would do it. The other thing that seems weird is that we're charging the guys who were just following orders. Why charge the foot soldiers instead of the generals who ordered the action? It's a pretty extreme tinfoil hat scenario, but could they be trying to establish a story frame of throwing the boots to the wolves, so Clapper and Alexander don't go down?

        • They could be trying to show to the public the NSA doing something the public will like. I imagine that showing documented evidence of who in China ordered the foot soldiers to do their job would involve revelation of capability that they don't want to reveal. Whereas, the current business shows a favorable result of spying on international connections to domestic businesses, demonstrating why the NSA wants the access they have to the domestic network.
          • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

            I think at this point they have just decided to go with "hay, everyone else is just as bad!"

      • by NotDrWho (3543773)

        yeah it's weird in that regard that they went for opening that pandoras box..

        They had to do something to distract people from the story [slashdot.org] that they're sabotaging Cisco routers coming out of the U.S.

        • by Rick Zeman (15628)

          yeah it's weird in that regard that they went for opening that pandoras box..

          They had to do something to distract people from the story [slashdot.org] that they're sabotaging Cisco routers coming out of the U.S.

          It's the South Park "Look! A wookie!!" defense.

    • by captainpanic (1173915) on Monday May 19, 2014 @10:44AM (#47038173)

      At least that makes for a bulletproof court case: NSA files show that the data is now stored on a Chinese government computer... Oh, wait.

    • by gtall (79522)

      Really? Do you have any evidence this has actually occurred or is this just another one of those "There is nothing the NSA cannot do" stories?

    • Which just steals secrets from the states, vs corporate secrets and giving them to GM, Apple, General Electric, etc.

      Actually, a couple of NSA's sub-programs relate specifically to industrial-espionage in the oil industry. So it is total hypocrisy.

    • President Obama is a constitutional scholar.

  • Jurisdiction (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Richy_T (111409) on Monday May 19, 2014 @10:26AM (#47038019) Homepage

    The US govt doesn't know the meaning of the word. Sovereignty's another.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      These are political moves. Said actual people better not leave China or Chinese-friendly (extradition-wise) nations.

      Yes it won't do much but it is a statement that your government ordered it is not gonna help you.

    • Re:Jurisdiction (Score:4, Informative)

      by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) on Monday May 19, 2014 @11:17AM (#47038421)

      The US govt doesn't know the meaning of the word. Sovereignty's another.

      Neither does the EU or probably most if not all other countries in the world. Did you know that France makes Ebay restrict certain listings on every Ebay site in the world, not just the French Ebay site, so that French citizens are theoretically prevented (by IP address) from (gasp!) seeing them? Italy has also tried to enforce its law beyond its national borders. Spain went so far as to try people from crimes committed in Latin America that had nothing to do with Spanish citizens. Austria put a Holocaust denier in jail for a while for statements he made in the UK, not Austria. Once he came to Austria they simply nabbed him and charged them under their anti-Nazi laws for something that didn't even happen on Austrian soil. So spare me the usual US bashing.

      • by Richy_T (111409)

        Fair statement. Though I tend to run in the US stuff more often. It's despicable from all though.

  • Talk about (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ukab the Great (87152) on Monday May 19, 2014 @10:29AM (#47038047)

    the pot and the kettle.

  • Does that mean ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Monday May 19, 2014 @10:30AM (#47038063) Homepage

    that I can sue the NSA for trying to crack my machines and that the USA will extradite the NSA employees to the UK so that they can be tried in our courts ? Do the people at the USA DOJ understand the meaning of the word ''irony'' ?

    This is more outlandish than even something that most political satire writers would have dreamed up.

  • by ThomasBHardy (827616) on Monday May 19, 2014 @10:33AM (#47038087)

    Does anyone else find this particularly ironic and posturing after the "Cisco Complains To Obama About NSA Adding Spyware To Routers" article earlier?

  • Good luck with that. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pla (258480) on Monday May 19, 2014 @10:35AM (#47038103) Journal
    No doubt, China will cooperate fully in extraditing members of their active military so they can stand trial in the US for following their orders.

    Not an Obama hater, but seriously, Russia and now China? Trying to start WWIII on two fronts, in case one backs down? 2016 can't come fast enough.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 19, 2014 @10:45AM (#47038191)

      "2016 can't come fast enough." You're an idiot if you think that changes ANYTHING AT ALL.

      • No, 2016 will change something.
        It could easily be for the worse, and most likely won't be any better, but it will change.
        • No, 2016 will change something.

          It could easily be for the worse, and most likely won't be any better, but it will change.

          Most likely, there will be no significant change to speak of. Maybe some cosmetic tweaks. Certainly new promises which will be broken on day one. Almost definitely a populace who will continue to fail to demand real change.

          Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

          • by Trogre (513942)

            What are you going to do about that? Isn't there some clause in your country's constitution that mandates you to fix situations like this?

        • No, 2016 will change something.

          The only thing that will change in 2016 is which person has a bunch of rich hands up their asshole controlling what comes out of their mouth. Everything else will remain exactly the same.

    • by just_another_sean (919159) on Monday May 19, 2014 @10:47AM (#47038209) Homepage Journal

      If the democrats are the ones currently instigating WWIII than 2016 ain't going to help. If a Republican gets elected (unless it's Ron Paul, and I'm not holding my breath for that!) than their just going to look at the previous 8 years as laying the ground work. And any democrat that gets elected is going to assume that their election is voter approval of the current administration's policies, otherwise the voters would have ousted the Dems and brought in a Rep.

      In other words, in a two party system, you're damned if you do, damned if you don't...

    • No doubt, China will cooperate fully in extraditing members of their active military so they can stand trial in the US for following their orders.

      Not an Obama hater, but seriously, Russia and now China? Trying to start WWIII on two fronts, in case one backs down? 2016 can't come fast enough.

      The response against Russia has been so weak that I am completely shocked that today Putin gave the order to pull back from the Ukrainian border. I am baffled about what this is supposed to accomplish in regards to China unless the real reason is to make the accused afraid to travel to the USA or possibly certain US friendly countries that might extradite them. Since the high ups in China love their foreign trips to "decadent" Western democracies, just stopping certain people from traveling and severely a

      • by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Monday May 19, 2014 @11:39AM (#47038619)

        There isn't much that can be done in response to Russia. Military action is out of the question: One does not start an open war with a nuclear superpower lightly. Economic sanctions hurt both sites, and Europe needs Russia as much as Russia needs Europe. They supply the gas that keeps the lights on.

        • by dargaud (518470)
          That's why the only reasonable course of action is to develop nuclear power _and_ green energy FAST in Europe to STOP giving money and incentives to Russia (and the middle east). Other things are just peacock posturing.
      • by gerardrj (207690)

        So stop complaining that we did the wrong thing and tell us what we should have done. Put up or shut up. There's a LOT going on politically behind the scenes with ambassadors and such chatting in isolated rooms.

        There are three options I can see:
        1. Ignore it and let the EU sort it out
        2. Sanctions and hard rhetoric, some military posturing in the region
        3. Invasion to reclaim the occupied lands. we (US, GB, etc) invade, China assists Russia, India assists us, Pakistan, Iran and the reset of the nuclear nation

        • by pla (258480)
          1. Ignore it and let the EU sort it out

          We have two and a half military forces on this planet worth considering in this discussion. Control of Europe matters only insofar as they give us friendly locations to stage military operations somewhat closer to Russia. And while the Mongol Horde may well erupt someday soon to conquer the entire planet, for now they seem content to pursue the American dream of owning the most disposable stuff.

          So yeah, option #1 makes the most sense, because we won't actually g
      • The response against Russia has been so weak that I am completely shocked that today Putin gave the order to pull back from the Ukrainian border.

        Two things:

        1) No sign of troops moving, so this order may be a sham meant to distract.

        2) Putin has accomplished pretty much all his objectives already (he's annexed Crimea, he's pretty much annexed the eastern half of Ukraine, he's made it clear to Europe that HE controls their natural gas supply.

        And on top of that, he's made it clear to the rest of eastern Eu

    • by tquasar (1405457)
      The USofA isn't a monarchy, The House and Senate are controlled by special interest groups esp. the World Domination Industry, so cyber war is good(for) business.
  • Very Bad Precedent (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HighOrbit (631451) on Monday May 19, 2014 @10:36AM (#47038113)
    Except for the special cases of crimes against humanity and "non official cover" spies, soldiers and civil servents should not be held criminally liable for doing their jobs or executing policy set by their superiors. Since we don't want our own military and government employees charged with 'crimes' for carrying out their duties, this is a very bad idea because it sets the precedent.
    • by jbmartin6 (1232050) on Monday May 19, 2014 @10:51AM (#47038233)
      On the contrary, every person should be held criminally liable for their actions regardless of instructions from "superiors". This would be an excellent precedent, let's get rid of the idea that a person can hide behind an organization or some other conspiracy and not be responsible for their own actions.
      • by radja (58949) on Monday May 19, 2014 @10:57AM (#47038283) Homepage

        There is already a precedent. German soldiers were tried and sentenced for carrying out orders in the concentration camps.

        • But it wasn't that simple.

          If they just had tried soldiers for carrying out orders, they would have had to hold the same measurements against their own soldiers (who of course were responsible for quite a number of civilian casualities, too) To escape that quandary, the "crimes against humanity" were invented. Which kept allied soldiers from prosecution for simply killing people, but allowed to sentence the leading german heads for industrial mass-killing.

          (To be fair: the allied forces concentrated on hangin

          • by qbast (1265706)

            Which kept allied soldiers from prosecution for simply killing people, but allowed to sentence the leading german heads for industrial mass-killing.

            (To be fair: the allied forces concentrated on hanging the head honchos and turned a blind eye to the common grunts)

            ... was simple fact that allies won and Germany lost.

            • Probably.. but they had the basic decency to set up that construct instead of plain obvious victor's justice

        • by houghi (78078)

          That is because they lost.

      • by HighOrbit (631451) on Monday May 19, 2014 @11:03AM (#47038329)
        That opens the door to politically motivated prosecutions of civil servants who carried out a policy you just disagree with. Again, there are special crimes against humanity that everybody gets held responsible for, but do you really want to prosecute a worker-bee at the IRS because you disagree with an 'unjust' tax policy?
        • by mlyle (148697) on Monday May 19, 2014 @11:19AM (#47038443)

          If it's unjust enough, yes.

          First, if we hold people immune/not morally responsible for whatever they do as part of misbehaving organizations, we've removed one of the final checks and balances from these organizations. We've effectively capitulated, saying that when you get enough people together they can turn into a crushing, evil leviathan, as long as there's not a blatantly clear organizational criminal conspiracy. People should be people, making (and held accountable for) moral judgments about the actions they take.

          My former boss made a mistake with the whole AMT thing. He exercised below market rate stock options and held the stock until the value went to 0. He made no actual money, but ended up with a tax liability and IRS employees systematically liquidating his assets. There are supposed to be things in the organization to protect against this-- an ombudsman, proscriptions against proceeding with such blatantly unfair and unaffordable collection practices, etc. He's in his late 60s and they just took everything. I think the people who didn't pull the organizational lever to stop the process, presumably because it wasn't helping them meet their collection targets, should be in prison.

          • by iggymanz (596061)

            "unjust" is totally a subjective concept. "Your racial equality is my reverse discrimination racism", etc.

        • by Carewolf (581105)

          That opens the door to politically motivated prosecutions of civil servants who carried out a policy you just disagree with. Again, there are special crimes against humanity that everybody gets held responsible for, but do you really want to prosecute a worker-bee at the IRS because you disagree with an 'unjust' tax policy?

          Nonsense! We are not talking about if something is just or unjust, but whether it is criminal or not. If you perform a criminal act, you have performed a criminal act and will be treated

        • If the tax policy is a crime, then yes the worker bee should be prosecuted. Isn't this why we have laws? It would be a much better world if stupid laws could not be enacted because the worker bees would refuse to enforce them out for fear of being held personally liable. Do you think we would have vicious bully cops in the USA (and elsewhere) if they got criminal convictions instead of paid vacations as a consequence? If you work for the IRS and your boss orders you to beat somebody to death, aren't you sti
      • by wiredog (43288)

        And when you get indicted for saying something which is perfectly legal to say where you are, but a capital offense in some other country?

        • What happens now? I am sure this isn't the first time a nation has indicted citizens of another one.
          • by dryeo (100693)

            There's no extradition treaty so nothing. Even with an extradition treaty I doubt that anything would happen. If this was a simple crime such as murder, the Chinese still would not extradite but might try the suspect in China. This is what happened when a Chinese national killed his girl friend in Vancouver (actually Burnaby) and ran home to China. The Chinese refused to extradite and tried him themselves, though they did promise not to use the death penalty.

    • by gerardrj (207690)

      This is a VERY GOOD precedent to set. As soon as "the people" can't hide behind "just following orders" they will start to affect change.

    • Alas, the precedent was set a long time ago in Nuremberg. They established quite clearly that "just following orders" wasn't an acceptable excuse.
    • by Xylantiel (177496)

      You realize that there is effectively no difference between a government-denied chinese hacker and a "non official cover" spy right?

      And if they aren't government-employed then this is the completely appropriate action.

      In either case, I 'd say its better to get this out in the open where the justice system can work it through rather than just finger pointing. If they're not government-sponsored (as the Chinese claim) then the Chinese should be willing to pony up and extradite them! (The fundamental issue

  • Next up is sanctions against the individuals in question. No more iPhones for you !
    • by pla (258480) on Monday May 19, 2014 @11:01AM (#47038317) Journal
      Next up is sanctions against the individuals in question. No more iPhones for you!

      I can hear the quote from Zhang Gaoli already: "After analyzing the sanctions against our military officers, I suggest to the USA to make their iPads using cardboard and trained fireflies".

      Oh, wait, China makes most of the world's cardboard, too. Hmm... Woven cat hairballs? I think we still have at least some domestic production of those, if Fluffy hasn't outsourced it to a Mexican Hairless (don't ask) yet...
    • by sjames (1099)

      Good luck with that, they make all the iPhones.

  • by Apharmd (2640859) on Monday May 19, 2014 @10:38AM (#47038139)
    How will the US enforce them? This will just make our government look weak.
  • Interesting Strategy (Score:5, Informative)

    by diakka (2281) on Monday May 19, 2014 @10:53AM (#47038257)

    Surely they're not going to get any cooperation from the Chinese government on this, but by naming these individuals, they could be limiting the future career choices of those individuals. Want to work at a foreign compa ny? might be tough. Want to travel to the US or country that has extradition with the US? Better think twice about that. Even if you want to work at a local Chinese company, you might not be able to command as high of a salary if you can't get competing offers from foreign companies. A high percentage of well moneyed and educated individuals in China have plans to emigrate to foreign countries with the growing pains China has on the horizon, and some talented folks might be dissuaded from this career path. How this will play out in the real world is hard to say, but If the US didn't think it would have some effect, I don't think they'd do it.

    • Quote the opposite I'd say, these people are likely to be lionised in China and have their careers furthered by being prosecuted. And if they really want to go abroad they can have new identities manufactured wholesale by their government. Global politics are a whole other level.

    • Diplomatic passport.

      • by Rich0 (548339)

        Diplomatic credentials are granted by the country you travel to, not the country you came from. The US would not grant diplomatic credentials to somebody wanted for a crime.

        If it worked as you suggest, than countries would send in spies over the border unlawfully all the time and if they got caught they'd just be sent home to try again. The reason spies are sent in NOC is so that the country they're visiting doesn't know they're there, which also means that they can be arrested as they have no diplomatic

    • by k6mfw (1182893)

      A high percentage of well moneyed and educated individuals in China have plans to emigrate to foreign countries ...

      Yes, I've read this same thing many (or most) Chinese will emigrate given the opportunity. One reason is nobody can buy land in China (well maybe for top politburo members), you can lease but not like here in US where you can own it. Kind of like way back when in Europe only royals and nobles can buy land, and was motivator for commoners to take chances moving to the New World.

      Getting back to this theme "Chinese stealing our secrets," not really, mostly these were given away (outsourcing).

  • Now THAT is precious... Since when is spying illegal in the US? They even tamper with other people's hardware, suck up the data of whole countries, deploy MITM attacks on the backbone and more. Really, they should just shut up and at least not become a bunch of spineless hypocrites.
  • by bobbied (2522392) on Monday May 19, 2014 @11:05AM (#47038339)

    I'm just going to have a heart attack and DIE from that surprise..

    This is SO STUPID. If you cannot get your hands on the hackers to arrest them, then why bother with saying anything? Just keep the honey pot in place and keep tracing where the attacks are coming from. Then, when you can get your hands on them it's special rendition time. This tell the public what happened only serves to notify everybody that you got hacked and then trying to take legal action to punish the hackers which has no hope of doing anything says you are inept and clueless too.

    You knew I would drink from the glass in front of me, so you switched the glasses so the one in front of me has the poison... BUT, you knew I would think that so CLEARLY the glass in front of you has the poison.... etc.. We are right at the "Never get in a land war in Asia.. " Line being spoken by this administration, only they are not wearing the mask.

    • by Amouth (879122)

      Personally i always like seeding and feeding the honeypot very valuable information that looks legit but is actual wrong in a way that only lots of time and money spent trying to implement reveals..

  • this is industrial espionage, which can sometimes include the act of hacking however is not necessarily hacking in and of itself.
    competent [world-nuclear.org] is an understatement when referring to a country thats manufactured twenty power plants and is in the process of creating another twenty eight. To think they would express any interest in reactor technology from a country that hasnt built a single reactor in more than 30 years is rather suspect. on the other hand, is entirely reasonable to suggest America is punish
  • Hilarity ensues (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Virtucon (127420) on Monday May 19, 2014 @11:13AM (#47038387)

    For decades now we've treated the Internet like an open house with everybody welcome and everybody allowed to come in and browse. As more and more technologies/designs/secrets have been put into computer systems they've been linked via Intranets within organizations and more importantly, and stupidly, on the Internet in the name of saving time or they've just been exposed because the people who are supposed to protect that information are incompetent idiots. That's the root cause here, not protecting the information that's held in those systems. China and other governments have employed script kiddies and any other tactics like purchased vulnerabilities to dig in, but again it's up to the holders of that data to protect it and to know what kind of enemies they're up against. Industrial espionage is nothing new, it's been around for centuries so why are we all shocked that this is allowed to happen? The secrets of the A-Bomb were leaked out of Los Alamos by sympathetic spies and some were executed for it. The B-29 bomber, a program that cost more than the A-Bomb to develop, was completely reverse engineered from one aircraft that made an emergency landing in the Soviet Union. It was copied right down to the same overheating engine problem that destroyed many of the aircraft. Chinese spies have recently been sent to prison for espionage [newyorker.com] so why is this suddenly news?

    While I'm glad that the US Govt. is trying to do something about all of this it's a bit late and ultimately it's up to all the industries that have technology worth stealing to start taking steps to protect their IP and their confidential information. This also means protecting yourself from the US government because as we all know the NSA is also passively watching everything you do. My suggesting is that there should be sufficient air gaps between your R&D/Competitive information and Intranets/Internet for starters and also start employing a risk mitigation strategy in your data handling practices because chances are your sensitive information is probably already public knowledge somewhere.

  • Look who is calling who a thief....

  • by jeff13 (255285) on Monday May 19, 2014 @11:29AM (#47038523) Homepage

    Do you here that? It's the sound of a billion people on the other side of the world loling.

    • by MRe_nl (306212)

      And small change...
      http://www.worldometers.info/w... [worldometers.info]

    • Do you hear that?

      Do you here that?

      Did you really just spell that word two different ways in the space of two sentences????

      Not that I disagree with the sentiment. I think someone is trying for distraction from the NSA in the news, and also trying to get over looking like an idiot with regards to Russia, Syria, and Iran. Especially Syria. 160K dead so far, and the USA hasn't even been able to stop Assad from using chemical weapons.

  • I am shocked! Shocked! to learn that the Chinese are hacking us! We would never do such a thing!

  • by mysidia (191772) on Monday May 19, 2014 @11:55AM (#47038751)

    @daveaitel [twitter.com] All espionage is illegal in the country you do it against.

    And since everyone in the world in any country, especially banks [irs.gov] (under FACTA) and foreign officials are under US jurisdiction, why not indict?

  • by BradMajors (995624) on Monday May 19, 2014 @01:20PM (#47039507)

    Chinese official response (in Chinese): http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_ch... [fmprc.gov.cn]

ASCII a stupid question, you get an EBCDIC answer.

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