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U.S. Government Sanctions Chinese Hackers For Targeting Critical Infrastructure

Officials say China’s hackers remain one of the 'greatest and most persistent' threats to the U.S

U.S. Government Sanctions Chinese Hackers For Targeting Critical Infrastructure

The federal government has announced sanctions against several Chinese nationals and entities accused of cyber espionage and hacking activities that targeted U.S. critical infrastructure.

Wuhan Xiaoruizhi Science and Technology Company (Wuhan XRZ) was among the entities sanctioned by the Treasury Department, which says that the company is a China-based Ministry of State Security front company that has served as cover for multiple hacking operations.

Zhao Guangzong and Ni Gaobin, two Chinese nationals affiliated with Wuhan XRZ, were also sanctioned for taking part in malicious cyber operations that directly endangered national security, the Treasury Department said.

According to a Treasury Department statement, China’s hackers remain one of the “greatest and most persistent” threats to the U.S.

“The United States is focused on both disrupting the dangerous and irresponsible actions of malicious cyber actors, as well as protecting our citizens and our critical infrastructure,” Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson said in the statement. “Through our whole-of-government approach and in close coordination with our British partners, Treasury will continue to leverage our tools to expose these networks and protect against these threats.”

Wuhan XRZ surveilled U.S. and foreign politicians, foreign policy experts, academics, journalists, and pro-democracy activists, as well as persons and companies operating in areas of national importance, Treasury officials said.

Guangzong has conducted numerous malicious cyber operations against U.S. targets, including a spear phishing operation against the U.S. Naval Academy and the U.S. Naval War College’s China Maritime Studies Institute, the statement said. Guangzong also, as explained in the document, has conducted similar operations against Hong Kong lawmakers and democracy advocates.

Officials say that Ni Gaobin assisted Guangzong in “many of his most high profile malicious cyber activities.”

Treasury says that all property or interests in property of the people sanctioned who are in the U.S. are blocked and must be reported of the Office of Foreign Assets Control.

Additionally, any financial institutions or individuals who engage in certain transactions with the sanctioned entities and people could themselves end up being sanctioned.

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