(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) – The US has charged four Chinese military officers over the huge cyber-attack on credit rating giant Equifax.
More than 147 million Americans were affected in 2017 when hackers stole sensitive personal data including names and addresses.
Some UK and Canadian customers were also affected.
China has denied the allegations and insisted it does not engage in cyber-theft.
Announcing the indictments on Monday, Attorney General William Barr called the hack “one of the largest data breaches in history”.
According to court documents, the four – Wu Zhiyong, Wang Qian, Xu Ke and Liu Lei – are allegedly members of the People’s Liberation Army’s 54th Research Institute, a component of the Chinese military.
They spent weeks in the company’s system, breaking into security networks and stealing personal data, the documents said.
The nine-count indictment also accuses the group of stealing trade secrets including data compilation and database designs.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang denied the allegations on Tuesday and said China’s government, military and their personnel “never engage in cyber theft of trade secrets”.
He said China was itself a victim of cyber-crime, surveillance and monitoring by the US, Reuters reported.
The whereabouts of the four suspects is unknown and it is highly unlikely that they will stand trial in the US.
FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich said: “We can’t take them into custody, try them in a court of law, and lock them up – not today, anyway.”