Chinese Officials Charged With Commercial Aviation ‘Espionage’

Chinese intelligence officers and hackers have been charged with commercial espionage, including attempts to steal information on commercial jet engines. Federal prosecutors named two officials working for the Chinese Ministry of State Security’s foreign intelligence arm and six others who allegedly conspired to “steal sensitive turbofan engine technology used in commercial aviation” between 2010 and 2015, the Associated Press reports. The hackers allegedly targeted a French aerospace company that was “developing the engines with a U.S. company” in a malware “spear phishing” attack. They also allegedly targeted engine part manufacturers in Massachusetts, Oregon, and Arizona. In total, prosecutors allege the hackers targeted 13 companies—including two companies based in the United Kingdom. At the time, a Chinese state-owned aerospace company was reportedly working to build a “similar type of engine for use in commercial aircraft.” The AP reports none of the eight defendants listed in the unsealed indictment are in custody. U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman said China’s alleged move should “offend every company that invests talent, energy, and shareholder money into the development of products.” “This action is yet another example of criminal efforts by the (Ministry of State Security) to facilitate the theft of private data for China’s commercial gain,” Braverman said in a statement.