Millions of Americans have fallen prey to China’s hacking tactics, leading to seven Chinese men being charged with conspiring to commit computer intrusions and wire fraud.

The indictment setting out the charges was announced yesterday (March 25) via a press release from the Office of Public Affairs.

The seven individuals are alleged to be part of a hacking group based in the People’s Republic of China that has spent approximately 14 years targeting U.S. and foreign critics, businesses and political officials.

More than 10,000 “malicious” emails were allegedly sent within the hacker community known as Advanced Persistent Threat 31. Some of these activities resulted in compromise of people’s networks, email accounts, cloud storage accounts, and phone records.

Court documents say the group’s activities may have compromised the work and personal email accounts, cloud storage accounts and phone records of millions of Americans.

Many emails are sent to targets under the guise of news articles. These emails contain hidden tracking links that, once opened, allow hackers to access and obtain information about the recipient. The group then uses this information to conduct more direct targeted hacking attacks.

Staff at the White House, Justice, Commerce, Treasury and State Departments, U.S. senators and representatives of both political parties were targeted.

“The Department of Justice will relentlessly pursue, expose and hold accountable cybercriminals who undermine democracy and threaten our national security,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco.

The British and New Zealand governments have also blamed China for cyber activity. A spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington said: “Relevant countries are jumping to conclusions without valid evidence” and “making groundless accusations.”

International community responds to Chinese hacking accusations

The British government has now formally accused China of being behind cyberattacks on members of Parliament and the Electoral Commission. As a result, sanctions were imposed.

Two Chinese nationals and a company called Wuhan Xiaoruizhi Technology Co., Ltd. were sanctioned, with their assets frozen and travel bans preventing them from entering or remaining in the UK. British citizens and businesses are also prohibited from handling their funds or resources.

The government says the company is affiliated with Advanced Persistent Threat Group 31.

New Zealand authorities also accused China of targeting its parliamentary network in 2021.

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