• Sat. Feb 24th, 2024

US officials have unveiled that Chinese hackers, alleged to be connected with the government, have allegedly stolen $20 million in COVID relief funds from the US.

According to the Secret Service, stolen taxpayer money was taken from Small Business Administration loans and unemployment insurance funds from a multitude of states. According to the Secret Service, NBC News reported that half of the stolen money has been recovered.

APT41, a hacker group backed by the Chinese government in Chengdu is believed to have orchestrated this attack; potentially stealing more than authorities are aware. This malicious organization has managed to remain undetected within cyberspace for quite some time now and these recent discoveries could be extremely detrimental.

“It would be crazy to think this group didn’t target all 50 states,” Roy Dotson, the national pandemic fraud recovery coordinator for the Secret Service, told NBC. 

The agency describes APT41 as a “Chinese state-sponsored, cyber threat group that is highly adept at conducting espionage missions and financial crimes for personal gain.”

Five of its members have been accused by federal prosecutors and are still living freely as they have not been extradited to the US and remain at-large.

Authorities believe that the attack was orchestrated by APT41, a cyber espionage unit based in Chengdu. This hacker group is believed to be sponsored and supported by an unknown state actor.

The US Secret Service is presently scrutinizing over a thousand potential cases of international and national offenders stealing public benefits.

“I’ve never seen them target government money before,” John Hultquist, head of intelligence analysis at cybersecurity firm Mandiant, said of the Chinese government. “That would be an escalation.” “I’ve never seen them target government money before,” John Hultquist, head of intelligence analysis at cybersecurity firm Mandiant, said of the Chinese government. “That would be an escalation.” 

Despite the uncertainty surrounding whether APT41 was ordered by the Chinese government to steal American’s hard-earned tax dollars, a senior Justice Department official informed that such activity is nevertheless “dangerous.” In the past, the US has accused Chinese hackers of infiltrating companies such as Equifax and Anthem Health, resulting in major data breaches.

“The United States is target No. 1, because we are competitor No. 1,” Ambassador Nathaniel Fick, who leads the State Department’s Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy, told NBC News that Fick described Chinese government-backed hacking as a “really comprehensive, multi-decade, well-considered, well-resourced, well-planned, well-executed strategy.”

An APT 41 Group wanted poster at a Department of Justice press conference. Bloomberg via Getty Images

Fick declared that Chinese government-backed cyberattacks as a “really comprehensive, multi-decade, well-considered, well-resourced, well-planned, well-executed strategy.”

For over a decade, APT41 has been stealing from organizations worldwide with no sign of stopping. The group is also known by other aliases such as Winnti, Barium and Wicked Panda.

Despite his efforts, former Assistant US Attorney Demian Ahn failed to bring any charges against the group known as APT41, whom have “tens of thousands of machines at one time, as part of their efforts to obtain information about others, and also to generate criminal profits.” 

Additionally, this organization reportedly takes note of announcements relating to security flaws in software and then strategically goes after customers who fail to patch the bug within their technology.

“They have the patience, the sophistication and the resources to carry out hacking that has a direct impact on national security,” an anonymous former Justice Department official said.

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