US Indicts Four Chinese Military Members Over Equifax Hacking

BY: Pragati Goyal

Background:




In 2017, mid of May and end of July Equifax said that the data was hacked by the Chinese military. In this hacking the highly techniques were used where the hacking location could not be traced by the US officials as they used 34 servers in nearly 20 countries and it was said that this hacking was the historical largest data breaching. This breach affected more than 147 million Americans and some of the victims were from UK and Canada which lead to stolen of the personal data including their names and addresses. And also, the information was given too late to the victims for this breach where critics accused the company for this hijack as they failed to maintain the security of the data they hold. Due to such kind of accusations the CEO of the company, Equifax resigned after a month of hacking and apologized for the company’s failure. The company, Equifax was forced to pay 700 million dollars to settle the federal trade commission on the ground of failure to manage the security of the data and 300 million dollars to the victims whose personal details were hacked.

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Current Issue:

On 11 th February 2020, US charges four Chinese military members for the hacking the personal details in Equifax. Wu Zhiyong, Wang Qian, Xu Ke and Liu Lei are allegedly members of the People’s Liberation Army’s 54th Research Institute, a component of the Chinese military. They spent weeks in the company’s system for the breaking security networks and stealing personal data. The nine-count indictment also accuses the group of stealing trade secrets including data compilation and database designs. The data that was hacked include health care providers and the theft of data from the Office of Personnel Management which carried sensitive records for almost all US federal employees. Chinese foreign ministry, Geng Shuang reacted on the allegations on 12 February 2020 in their defence and said China’s government, military and their personnel “never engage in cyber theft of trade secrets”. He said China is itself facing the crimes of cyber-crime, surveillance and monitoring by the US. According to Mr. Barr US has capabilities to found the hackers which deploys it and to remove the internet’s cloak of anonymity. And this hijack was not the first time by the Chinese government but also highlighted the incident of 2014.

Question of Law:

This cyber crime cannot be considered as minor crime which could be ignorable and specially when it affect the large population and also target the security of the nation. This hijack affected millions of people which will be known in the history of cyber crime. Here the question arises that why the victims were informed late and what would happen if their data would be misused and this questions that the developed country US can’t have the security system which could protect from being hijacked. The question arises that if the personal data of the people can be hacked then it would be easier for china or any other state to hack the security system too and if the national security system couldn’t be hacked then why it has not the security as they have for the national security. The crime was committed by the Chinese charged by US but will it assure the security of people that it would not repeat in future.

Conclusion:

It is the discretion of US law authorities that what would be the punishment to the accused for their historical cyber crime. It is to be notice that Chinese government is not accepting the hacking was done by their military members and how could they ask that when everybody knows the truth. It is the fault of the company that it not only failed to perform its duty of security of the data but also informing late to the victims. This hacking warns the other security systems too. When in 2014, china performed such kind of crimes then why US didn’t took strict actions against them and this time it should make such provisions that it would not be repeated. This time the people should be assured for their security and now we have to see what would be the outcome of this crime by the law authorities.

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