The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has charged two Malaysians and five Chinese men with hacking more than 100 tech companies.
The DoJ said that the Chinese men worked as senior managers for a Chinese network security company, but they also moonlighted using their skills for illegal hacking activities.
Allegedly, the hackers would obtain digital items and currencies for games and sell them for real money.
They also targeted software developers, PC manufacturers, social media companies, and more.
The DoJ alleges that the two Malaysian businessmen – Wong Ong Hua, 46, and Ling Yang Ching, 32 – worked with the Chinese hackers to attack video game firms in the US, France, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea.
Microsoft, Google, and Facebook all aided officials in the investigation and in discovering and disrupting the attack methods.
“Several of the Chinese defendants compromised the networks of video game companies worldwide. That’s a billion-dollar industry. And defrauded them of game resources,” Deputy Attorney-General Jeffrey Rosen told reporters.
“Two of the Chinese defendants stand accused with two of the Malaysian defendants of selling those resources on the black market through their illicit website.”
Rosen also blamed the Chinese state for allowing such activity to happen.
“The DoJ has used every tool available to disrupt the illegal computer intrusions and cyber-attacks by these Chinese citizens,” he said.
“Regrettably, the Chinese Communist Party has chosen a different path of making China safe for cybercriminals so long as they attack computers outside China and steal intellectual property helpful to China.”
As the US does not have an extradition treaty with China, all five Chinese hackers are currently “fugitives” in China.
Both Malaysian men were arrested by Malaysian police and Interpol in Malaysia on Sept 14.
The DoJ applied for the men to be extradited to the US.
It was announced yesterday that Attorney-General Idrus Harun has agreed to extradite them.