U.S. prosecutors have charged four hackers said to be working for the Chinese military for the 2018 cyberattack at Equifax, which led to the theft of more than 147 million credit reports in a massive data breach.
Attorney general William Barr accused the four members of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army of hacking into the credit giant over a period of several months.
The nine-charge indictment was announced Monday against Wu Zhiyong, Wang Qian, Xu Ke, and Liu Lei.
“This is the largest theft of sensitive PII by state-sponsored hackers ever recorded,” said FBI deputy director David Bowdich.
Equifax revealed the data breach in September 2017, months after it discovered hackers had broken into its systems.
An investigation showed the company failed to patch a web server it knew was vulnerable for weeks, which let hackers crash the servers and steal massive amounts of personal data. Names, addresses, Social Security numbers and more — and millions more driver license and credit card numbers were stolen in the breach. The data breach also affected British and Canadian nationals.
Equifax chief executive Richard Smith retired shortly after the breach, but didn’t escape criticism.
Sen. Chuck Schumer called the breach and the credit giant’s handling of the aftermath “one of the most egregious examples of corporate malfeasance since Enron.”
Equifax later settled with the Federal Trade Commission to pay at least $575 million in fines.
“Today, we hold [the Chinese military] hackers accountable for their criminal actions, and we remind the Chinese government that we have the capability to remove the Internet’s cloak of anonymity and find the hackers that nation repeatedly deploys against us,” said Barr.
Developing… more soon.