China’s depths of its reach on the world stage has been repeatedly brought to light in the last week. With the coronavirus reaching outbreak levels surpassing SARS, learning of Chinese spies at Harvard and other elite educational institutes, and now we learn China was responsible for the Equifax hack. Just today the Justice Department charged four members of China’s People’s Liberation Army’s 54th Research Institute of stealing personal data of 145 million Americans.
In 2017, the credit-reporting giant Equifax was hacked and compromised nearly 150 million Americans’ personal information. In a press conference earlier today, Attorney General William Barr said, “this was a deliberate and sweeping intrusion into the private information of the American people.” Indicted by a federal grand jury in Atlanta last week, it was determined that “the soldiers used a vulnerability in Equifax’s online dispute portal to access its secure servers over several weeks” reports The National Review.
The group was then able to run “approximately 9,000 queries while routing traffic through 34 servers to secretly obtain names, birth dates, and social security numbers for nearly half of all American citizens, before compressing and exporting the data.” Over the weekend, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke to 44 governors at the National Governors Association meeting with one main message: do not trust China.
Speaking to the governors specifically about dealing with China, Pompeo said, “they’ve labeled each of you friendly, hardline or ambiguous…I’ll let you decide where you think you belong. Someone in China already has. Many of you indeed, in the report are referenced by name.” The report refers to the understanding that each governor is being “individually analyzed by at least one Chinese government-backed think-tank on how malleable they are, and how prone to cooperate with China” reported Politico.
Pompeo warned the governors, “Competition with China is happening inside of your state, and it affects our capacity to perform America’s vital national security functions” and warned them to be cautious about everything from business deals, pension funds, and the D.C. Metro system.