China, Russia Hire Hackers to Steal US Secrets, Government Report Says
Backed by their governments, Chinese and Russian hackers spy on the U.S. and steal sensitive economic and military secrets from American government organizations, according to a new report by U.S. intelligence agencies.
Presented to Congress today (Nov. 3), "Foreign Spies Stealing US Economic Secrets in Cyberspace" accuses Chinese and Russian cybercriminals of conducting cyberespionage operations against private companies, U.S. government agencies and universities to aid their own economic development.
The report, compiled by the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive and with input from 14 American intelligence agencies, calls Chinese hackers "the world's most active and persistent perpetrators of economic espionage," and says Moscow's intelligence services are using the Internet to "collect economic information and technology to support Russia's economic development and security."
Both countries' governments hire independent hackers to conduct attacks, which also target trade and technology secrets and other intellectual property.
While it's long been assumed that foreign governments, especially China, support hackers in their efforts to spy and steal from other countries including the U.S., this report is unusually candid in pointing the finger at China and Russia and accusing them of operating state-sponsored cybercrime missions .
The report includes several instances of Chinese hackers targeting U.S companies, including David Yen Lee, who is currently serving a 15-month sentence for stealing 160 secret paint formulas from The Valspar Corporation, and Yu Xiang Dong, serving 70 months in prison for stealing documents from Ford Motor Company in 2006 to help him get a job with a Chinese automotive company.
The future, the report contends, will see an increase in cyberespionage efforts from both China and Russia.
"The IC [intelligence community] anticipates that China and Russia will remain aggressive and capable collectors of sensitive U.S. economic information and technologies, particularly in cyberspace. Both will almost certainly continue to deploy significant resources and a wide array of tactics to acquire this information from U.S. sources, motivated by the desire to achieve economic, strategic, and military parity with the United States."
The report also says intelligence agencies are working with "all segments of the public and private sectors to try to counter espionage activities that target our sensitive economic data and technology." Groups including the FBI and the National Cyber Counterintelligence Group are collaborating and creating joint task forces to detect and mitigate threats.
U.S. businesses and organizations that house sensitive information that could be viewed by cybercriminals as potential targets need to institute better policies and take more responsibility for protecting that information , the report says.