FBI agent thanks Taiwan for help in indicting Chinese hackers

09/18/2020 05:51 PM
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Investigation Bureau Director-General Leu Wen-jong (left) and FBI
Investigation Bureau Director-General Leu Wen-jong (left) and FBI's Nicholas J. Garcia. CNA photo Sept. 18, 2020

Taipei, Sept. 18 (CNA) The representative of the U.S.' Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to Taiwan on Friday thanked Taiwan for helping his agency uncover a global hacking campaign led by Chinese hackers.

Speaking at a news conference hosted by the Investigation Bureau under Taiwan's Ministry of Justice, Nicholas J. Garcia voiced his appreciation to the bureau for key information it provided that led to a crackdown on the Chinese hackers' activity.

Garcia thanked Taiwan after the U.S. Department of Justice unsealed indictments against five Chinese hackers on Wednesday for alleged cyberattacks on 100 companies and institutions around the world to steal intelligence and commit extortion.

The five hackers, who were indicted by separate grand juries in August 2019 and August 2020 and remain at large, are members of the China-based group known as APT-41 (also known as "Winnti" or "Barium").

The group is suspected of having close links to China's public security authorities.

Investigation Bureau Director-General Leu Wen-jong (呂文忠) said his bureau identified the hackers' link to APT-41 after receiving reports in May of three Taiwan-based enterprises being hacked, including an energy company.

After a detailed investigation, the Investigation Bureau found the hackers had used a relay station in the U.S., and it passed the information to the FBI, helping the U.S. agency crack down on the group's activity and put together the indictment, Leu said.

In a statement issued earlier Friday, the bureau, citing an investigation by U.S. authorities, said APT-41 has developed malware able to hack into government agencies, telecom companies, academic and medical institutions and video game companies around the world to ask for ransoms.

The U.S. has been moving aggressively against what it sees as an intensive campaign by state-sponsored hackers to steal intellectual property and other assets.

In July, U.S. prosecutors filed charges against other hackers for working with Chinese authorities to target companies developing vaccines for COVID-19, and of stealing hundreds of millions of dollars of intellectual property and trade secrets from companies worldwide.

(By Flor Wang and Hsiao Po-wen)

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