Attorney General Bill Barr announced charges from the U.S. government against four Chinese hackers, who are members of the Chinese military, for the hacking of the credit reporting agency Equifax, ABC reports.
The breach occurred in 2017 and resulted in the compromising of personal information of over 145 million Americans, including Social Security numbers. In his announcement of the charges, Barr called the theft “staggering,” as it “not only caused significant financial damage to Equifax, but invaded the privacy of many millions of Americans.”
The charges are the latest escalation in U.S.-China relations by the Chinese, following previous hacks by Chinese nationals as well as the ongoing conflict regarding the 5G company Huawei. Such hacks are consistent with China’s overall goals to “target U.S. government officials and ordinary citizens…to find weaknesses and vulnerabilities that can be exploited, such as for the purposes of blackmail.”
As a result of the breach, Equifax was required to pay out over $700 million in damages. Due to the sheer amount of affected Americans, lawyers suing Equifax on behalf of claimants have warned that the possibility of actually receiving a cash reward from the settlement is unlikely.