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Four Chinese spies are charged with being behind the Equifax data breach

Published Feb 10th, 2020 6:15PM EST
Equifax Data Breach
Image: Photo by Justin Lane/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

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The Justice Department today indicted four spies working for the Chinese government for hacking into Equifax back in 2017. Notably, the indictment confirms previous speculation which attributed the massive data breach to spies working for a foreign government.

Interestingly enough, investigators first began to suspect that the breach was a spy job because the stolen Equifax data wasn’t making its way online. This led investigators to conclude that the data breach wasn’t carried out by run-of-the-mill fraudsters looking to make a quick buck online, but rather as part of a larger, more involved, and more sophisticated operation.

To this end, Politico adds:

Chinese spies have ramped up espionage-focused hacking in recent years. Their targets — including the Office of Personnel Management and the health insurance titan Anthem — reflect Beijing’s desire to amass dossiers on Americans, especially those with security clearances, in the hope of compromising them.

Briefly touching on the recent indictment, Attorney General William Barr noted that “this was a deliberate and sweeping intrusion into the private information of the American people.”

“Today, we hold PLA hackers accountable for their criminal actions,” Barr added. “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.”

The Equifax data breach ultimately impacted 147 million customers and involved a treasure trove of personal information, including consumer birth date information, Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, and more. Predictably, the suit resulted in a large class action suit that saw Equifax agree to pay $700 million in damages.

Incidentally, the portion of that $700 million designated for cash settlement payouts is just $31 million, which is to say that consumers impacted by the data breach will not receive anywhere close to the $125 the company initially promised.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.