Transcript for DOJ announces indictment of 4 Chinese military hackers
I'm here to announce the indictment of Chinese military hackers. Specifically for members of the Chinese People's Liberation Army. For breaking into the computer systems of the credit reporting agency at the facts. And for stealing the sensitive personal information of nearly half. Of all American citizens. And also Equifax is harder on intellectual property. This was one of the largest data breaches in history. It came to light into fat in the summer of 2017. When Equifax and announced the theft. The scale of the theft was staggering. As alleged in the indictment. The hackers obtained the names birth dates and Social Security numbers of nearly a 115 million Americans. And the driver's licenses. Of approximately ten of at least ten million Americans. This that theft not only caused significant financial damage to Equifax but invaded the privacy of many millions of Americans. And impose substantial costs and burdens on them. As they had to take measures. To protect themselves from identity theft. As described in the indictment the hackers broke into Equifax is network through a vulnerability in the company's dispute resolution. System. Once in the network the hackers spent weeks conducting reconnaissance. Uploading malicious software. And steep and stealing login credentials. Wall to set up the stage to steal vast amounts of data from Equifax has systems. While doing this to hackers also stole Equifax is trade secrets embodied by the compiled data and complex database designed used to store personal information. Those trade secrets were the product of decades of investment. And hard work by the company. Today's announcement. Comes after two years. Of investigation. According to the nine count indictment handed down by the grand jury in Atlanta. Four members of the Chinese people liberation army. Are alleged to have conspired to hack Equifax is computer systems and commit economic espionage. This kind of attack. On American industry. Is of a peace with the other Chinese illegal acquisitions of sensitive personal data. For years we have witnessed China's voracious appetite for the personal data. Of Americans including the theft of personnel records from the Office of Personnel Management. The intrusion into Marriott hotels and anthem health insurance companies. And now the wholesale theft of credit and other information from Equifax. This data has economic value. And knees staffs can feed. China's development of artificial intelligence tools. As well as the creation. Of intelligence targeting packages. In addition to the staffs of sensitive personal data are cases reveal a pattern. Of state sponsored computer intrusions and thefts by China targeting trade secrets and confidential business information. Hacks find them were group known as a PT tan. Which worked in association with the Chinese ministry of state security. Or M assets. To target managed service providers and our clients worldwide across industries. Acts by MSS intelligence officers who sought to steal intellectual property relating to Turbo fan engines. By using both insiders and computer operations. And -- by PLA officers. Who targeted victims in the nuclear power metals and solar products industries for the economic benefit. Of Chinese companies. Indeed about 80%. Of our economic. Espionage prosecutions. Have implicated. The Chinese Government. And about 60%. Of all trade secret theft cases in recent years involves some connection with China. We normally. Don't bring criminal charges against members of another country's military or intelligence services outside the United States. In general traditional military and intelligence activity. Is a separate sphere of conduct that ought not be subject. Of the domestic criminal law. There are exceptions however. For instance we have brought charges against intelligence officers. Operating undercover in the United States and more recently we have charge state sponsor actors for computer intrusions in the United States. For the purpose of intellectual property theft for the use. Of their private sector. Including bank robbery in interference with our democratic elections. Like those cases the deliberate indiscriminate staff to vast amounts of sensitive personal data of civilians. As occurred here cannot be countenance. The United States like other nations has gathered intelligence throughout its history. To ensure that national security and foreign policy decision makers have access to timely accurate and insightful information. But we. But we collect information only for legitimate national security purposes. We don't indiscriminately violate the privacy of ordinary citizens.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.