A federal grand jury in Atlanta has indicted four Chinese military members on charges of hacking into credit-reporting firm Equifax and conspiring to steal personal data on nearly 150M U.S. citizens, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
“This was a deliberate and sweeping intrusion into the private information of the American people,” Attorney General William Barr said Monday. “We collect information only for legitimate national security purposes; we don’t indiscriminately violate the privacy of ordinary citizens.”
The Chinese nationals allegedly exploited a software vulnerability associated with Equifax’s online dispute portal and used 34 servers across nearly 20 countries to gain access into the credit-reporting agency’s network, according to the nine-count indictment. The cyber breach started in May 2017 and continued through July of that year.
Compromised data included driver’s license and Social Security numbers, birthdays and addresses. Officials said the breach also involved theft of trade secrets from Equifax.