DOJ throws down the gauntlet with cyber crime charges against Chinese military

The United States and China have a strange relationship. They are rival nations that don’t trust each other, and yet work very closely together in many ways. China is a communist nation–that owns a huge stake in US capitalism, and has much to gain from the success of US enterprise.

China is also a communist nation that competes with US businesses with its own massive manufacturing and technology industries. According to charges filed by the US Department of Justice against Chinese military officials, China has violated US cyber crime laws to obtain sensitive proprietary information from US rivals.

Here is what I wrote for CSOOnline:

Things are probably going to be a little (more) tense between the United States and China for a while Attorney General Eric Holder announced this morning that the US Department of Justice has indicted a number of Chinese military officials for cyber crimes perpetrated against US companies.

In a press conference revealing the charges, Holder stressed that this is not the sort of espionage and cyber spying nations routinely conduct against each other. What makes these activities different according to Holder is that they are pure corporate espionage for the purpose of giving Chinese companies an advantage against US businesses. In other words, this isn’t about the Chinese military trying to hack the Pentagon or Lockheed-Martin to spy on military secrets, this is about the Chinese government stealing proprietary information from private businesses in the US to give Chinese businesses an edge.

“This is an incredibly significant prosecution. It is the first time the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the federal computer crime statute, and the Economic Espionage Act, the federal criminal trade secrets act, has been used against representatives of a foreign government,” explained Nick Ackerman, a partner at the international law firm Dorsey and Whitney, and an expert on the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. “Both of these statutes have been in existence for a number of years, yet the government has not used either statute against a representative of a foreign government.”

George Kurtz, President/CEO and co-founder of CrowdStrike, agreed in an emailed comment. “This is a watershed moment that many in the cyber security industry have been waiting for. CrowdStrike has been tracking many of these Chinese adversaries for years and has been pushing the government to actively pursue these groups through all available legal and diplomatic means.”…

You can read the full CSOOnline article here: DOJ throws down the gauntlet with cyber crime charges against Chinese military.

What do you think? Was this the right move for the DOJ? Will this case have any lasting affect on cyber espionage of private businesses?

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