The Chinese government has denied involvement in the 2017 Equifax breach after the Department of Justice indicted four members of the country’s military for the crime.
Geng Shuang, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, said that the country’s agencies “never engage in cybertheft of trade secrets,” according to a report by The New York Post. The denial came after US Attorney General William Barr announced the indictment of four members of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army for allegedly hacking the credit-reporting agency, stealing the personal information of nearly 150 million consumers.
Geng also accused the US of “engaging in large-scale, organized and indiscriminate cyberstealing, spying and surveillance” against foreign governments – including China – individuals and businesses, the Post reported.
Barr announced the indictments on Monday, alleging that four Chinese military hackers – Wu Zhiyong, Wang Qian, Xu Ke and Liu Lei – had broken into Equifax’s system through a vulnerability in its dispute-resolution website. Once they gained access, the hackers allegedly spent weeks digging through customer data, uploading malicious software and stealing login credentials, all in preparation for the theft of millions of customers’ personal information.
The hack was “an organized and remarkably brazen criminal heist of sensitive information of nearly half of all Americans,” Barr said.
The Equifax hack was one of the largest data breaches in history. The breach cost the credit-reporting agency hundreds of millions of dollars in civil penalties and imposed substantial costs on consumers who had to take measures to protect against identity theft. Two Equifax employees were also convicted of insider trading related to the breach, and then-CEO Richard Smith stepped down in the aftermath of the cyber attack.