Five members of an alleged Chinese hacking group have been indicted for their role in a scheme to hack into more than 100 companies in the U.S., the Justice Department announced Wednesday.
Two Malaysian businessmen have been taken into custody in a separate indictment and charged with helping those hackers profit from intrusions into the video gaming industry, the Justice Department said.
The FBI says that the hackers, part of a group known as “APT41,” were allowed to operate by the Chinese government, who the U.S. says has done nothing to curb the hacking activities of their own citizens.
The five Chinese nationals facing charges were identified as Zhang Haoran, Tan Dailin, Qian Chuan, Fu Qiang, and Jiang Lizhi.
According to the charging documents, they allegedly conducted supply chain attacks to gain access to networks throughout the world allegedly deploying ransomware attacks and demanded payment from the victims. Federal prosecutors say they targeted telecommunications companies, governments, defense companies, education, and manufacturing industries.
The companies were located in the U.S., Australia, Brazil, Germany, India, Japan, and Sweden. The suspects also allegedly targeted telecommunications providers in the U.S., Australia, Tibet, Chile, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand.
Two of the alleged hackers, Zhang and Tan, were also charged with activity allegedly targeting video gaming companies.
APT 41 is an industry nickname given to an extremely prolific hacker group, loosely associated with Chinese intelligence, which has hit a number of industries across the world, and which conducts both espionage and more conventional cybercrime for profit.
Kevin Collier contributed.