back to article US govt accuses four Chinese army soldiers of hacking Equifax and siphoning 145m Americans' personal info

The United States today announced criminal charges against four Chinese Army soldiers who, it is claimed, are the hackers who stole 145 million Americans’ personal data from credit scorer Equifax. Wu Zhiyong, Wang Qian, Xu Ke, and Liu Lei, are all said to have been members of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA)’s 54th Research …

  1. Cederic Silver badge

    34 servers in 20 countries

    Leaving aside my shock that it wasn't the Russians it's interesting that the US appear to be advertising their ability to trace connections through 34 servers in 20 countries.

    That's a lot of forensic networking, even if the longest of the four chains was nine servers in five countries.

    1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

      Re: 34 servers in 20 countries

      I guess I'm looking at this the other way. I cannot imagine a self-respecting spy agency that could NOT do this.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Forgive me, but i'm suffering cynicism overload. How convenient that it was four Chinese soldiers.

    1. macjules Silver badge

      Of course poor Equifax couldn't possibly have stored 145m American's details in such a way that any member of the People's Liberation Army might have just been able to hack them, could they?

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Not just any member of the PLA. Their security was so good that only Hugh, Pugh, Barnet McGrew and Cuthbert were good enough - it kept Dibble and Grub out.

    2. Benson's Cycle

      I believe the English translation of those names is Tinky-winky, Dipsy, La-La and Po.

  3. P.B. Lecavalier
    FAIL

    In Québec (Canada), an important credit union (Desjardins) had a massive data breach not long ago. They offered a free account to everyone to check that their credit information is safe.

    What company provides this surveillance service? Equifax, of course!

    If you can't beat em, join em??

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      But that was the NSA getting vital information on potentially dangerous Canadians.

      (sings) Blame Canada

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Grand Jury...

    "A grand jury is a bizarre American legal process in which a group of around 20 citizens picked at random are locked in a room with prosecutors and are not allowed to leave until at least half of them vote to allow some third party to be put on trial for alleged criminal offences."

    What an ASS. A Grand Jury is a group of citizens that is gathered to decide if the case that the prosecutor presents is, in fact, worthy of prosecution. It prevents a prosecutor from going off on his own and deciding what is and is not worthy of prosecution. It prevents him from abuse of power. If you don't understand it, that's fine. I'd say "stop with the asinine display of ignorance", but coming from a court system where they still wear wigs, I don't think you can.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @AC - Re: Grand Jury...

      Easy with your horses, mate! You mean a judge is not competent enough to decide if a case worth being allowed to proceed ? And if he's not, a bunch of ordinary people would be in his place ?

      Me too I find it weird that a justice system goes out in the street and picks up people at random without any formal training or qualification in law/justice administration which are then being asked to decide on a serious legal matter. Come on, we all know that legalese is an even more cryptic language than old Klingon and a regular Joe off the street will surely prove competent for this task.

      Heck, if this is a good thing then I'm expecting to see a surgeon out in the street saying: you, you and you there, all come with me. I have a brain surgery and I need a team to make sure I'm cutting the right piece from my patient.

      A down vote from me for your bad usage of upper case.

    2. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: Grand Jury...

      I similarly was going to point out that is not how a grand jury works and provide a link to any who actually wanted more details:

      https://lmgtfy.com/?q=how+does+a+grand+jury+work

      Having performed my civic duty in serving on one, I can say the experience I had was various officers of the state (police, fire marshal, etc) presented evidence and asked permission to proceed with an indictment. It is intended to be a check on the state by its citizens. While we allowed most cases to proceed, we did not do so for all. I fail to see what is bizarre about this concept.

      1. Tom 38 Silver badge

        Re: Grand Jury...

        Why not just have an independent judiciary and let a judge decide whether a case is without merit and should be dismissed?

      2. vogon00

        Re: Grand Jury...

        Thanks for bothering to explain the grand jury process and purpose. Not many would have bothered.

        So, the U.S. Grand Jury is a 'check and balance' in the process, where 'joe public' has the chance to decide if the case is worth prosecuting then? We have a state organisation over here, the Crown Prosecution Service, who's job it is to decide if the evidence (and other factors!) even permits someone to be charged with an offence, never mind being trialled for it. Sadly, this is usually based on their estimate of the probability of conviction should the person be charged. Not much chance of conviction? Then you're not charged as going to trial is 'Not in the public interest' i.e. too expensive.

        By the way, some sites I read suggest that once you are selected/accepted as a member of the Grand Jury, you could be in court a couple of days a week for up to two years! Is that (a) true and if so, (b) nationally or only in some states?

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Grand Jury...

          Don't forget that Joe Public has a chance to decide the case under the UK system. It's called a jury. There is also scope for a preliminary hearing to evaluate the case and this is not only an open procedure, it's also a proceeding in which the accused can challenge evidence.

          Not much chance of conviction? Then you're not charged as going to trial is 'Not in the public interest' i.e. too expensive.

          Maybe there are other issues apart from expense. Imagine ou find yourself accused of something you didn't do. What would be your preference for avoiding the risk of being put on trial - a grand jury with prosecutors presenting evidence in a proceeding in which, without your ability to defend yourself, they're trying to persuade a bunch of laypeople of the case or one in which (a) experienced lawyers can decide the evidence isn't convincing and (b) a preliminary hearing in which you can challenge the evidence?

        2. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
          Childcatcher

          Re: Grand Jury...

          By the way, some sites I read suggest that once you are selected/accepted as a member of the Grand Jury, you could be in court a couple of days a week for up to two years! Is that (a) true and if so, (b) nationally or only in some states?

          Grand juries are used at various levels of the US justice system (federal, state, county, municipality). The one on which I served was at the county level. We came in one day each month for three months. We only considered felonies unless there were misdemeanors also associated with a given case. I cannot speak to other jurisdictions' rules, but I am sure there is variation among them. I should also mention that the proceedings were nothing like I have seen depicted in popular media, but that is probably not a surprise to most.

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Grand Jury...

        "I fail to see what is bizarre about this concept."

        Seeing as you provided a munged link I'm not prepared to follow I can't be sure of the details. But assuming the one-sided, closed door bit is correct - and from reports of other grand jury cases with sealed verdicts & whatnot it appears to be - that, to me, is bizarre.

        Wigs or not, a preliminary hearing in open court with the accused able to be represented is the only fit way to do this in a democratic society. That's why we ditched it years ago.

    3. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: Grand Jury...

      >but coming from a court system where they still wear wigs

      I thought they'd given up on wigs for most courts years ago.

      1. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

        "I thought they'd given up on wigs for most courts years ago."

        No, wigs, stockings, suspenders, the lot. Look, here's some now:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q80ElML7KGk

    4. Claptrap314 Silver badge

      Re: Grand Jury...

      No judicial system is going to be perfect. The grand jury system is designed to limit malicious prosecutions. Since merely charging someone with a crime can destroy their reputation, and with it, their ability to make a living--not to mention costing them thousands in legal fees--this requires that the State demonstrate that it has actual evidence that could convict before filing charges. That is all.

      I had a friend who served on a federal grand jury. It was for 15 months. At the end, she stated that several members asked if they could continue. So, not such a terrible thing to be a part of.

      And as for the "ham sandwich" quote, she also related that the BATF got 0 indictments.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Grand Jury...

      Which is why most prosecutors are able to indict a ham sandwich for any crime. Note, the jurors have no specialty or knowledge and only hear the prosecution “evidence”.

    6. Claverhouse Silver badge

      Re: Grand Jury...

      Britain, from whence they were derived, Common Law and all that, got rid of them about 8 decades ago.

      On the grounds they were silly.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thank heavens!

    Thanks heavens that it was a state sponsored attack. Otherwise we'd have to blame Equifax for having utterly shit security. But as long as they continue to make campaign donations to politicians no amount of public funds will be spared in trying to find some way to exonerate them.

  6. IGotOut
    Megaphone

    As you managed to trace the exact people...

    That commited this via multiple hops, any chance of arresting those that keep trying to hack my site? I'll supply the US based IP addresses, times and method of attack if it helps.

    It may even be those commie bastards, but if you can at least hit those devices with a hammer, it will be most appreciated.

    Thanks.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unpatched Java Struts Framework?

    Anybody being held accountable for that too?

  8. adam payne Silver badge

    “Today, we hold PLA hackers accountable for their criminal actions, and we remind the Chinese government that we have the capability to remove the Internet’s cloak of anonymity and find the hackers that nation repeatedly deploys against us.”

    So you've shouted their names from the roof tops but they'll never be held accountable for anything as China won't give them up.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The authorities will simply give them new identities. Four people who died, out of sight, in a corona virus hospital, are now magically cured. OMG I've just started a conspiracy theory!

    2. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Yes no doubt they're now quaking with fear, and will spend the rest of their lives nervously looking around every time they hear a helicopter in case it's coming for them.

      /sarc

  9. Claverhouse Silver badge
    Happy

    As The Wind Blows...

    From the Office of the US Attorney General:

    Please note

    These are preliminary findings and the US reserves the right to swap in Russian state hackers; North Korean state hackers; Libyan Terrorists; Peta; German Neo-Nazis; or random British hackers acting alone, living in Britain but legally liable to surrender by the authorities on demand.

  10. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

    I don't understand this ... Ok, so the identities of the hackers have been identified. Good. Now what?

    Do the Americans expect the hackers to be traveling overseas using their real names?

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