On Monday, May 25th the United States Justice Department officially indicted five people in the Chinese military for spying on US businesses. Attorney General Eric Holder stated that “This is a case alleging economic espionage by members of the Chinese military and represents the first-ever charges against a state actor for this type of hacking.” The cyber hackers were charged with over thirty various charges that date back nearly a decade.
Cyber hacking by the Chinese has been suspected for some time. In a report in September 2013, the computer security firm Mandiant revealed that their research had traced hackers back to a group with ties to the Chinese military establishment in Shanghai.
The question now is…what happens next? The Chinese government naturally denies the charges and there is some question as to how prosecution will proceed. Should the prosecution move forward there will of course be a question as to what court it will be tried in, but perhaps more importantly how the trail of evidence was gathered, who did the investigation, what resources were utilized, and how the identity of the five individuals was determined. Revealing that sort of information could prove troublesome to the US cyber community as the story unfolds.