During an interview on “60 Minutes” Sunday, FBI Director James Comey said Chinese hackers have about as much skill as a “drunken burglar,” and that their only strength lies in the sheer number and frequency of attacks.
“I liken them a bit to a drunk burglar. They’re kickin’ in the front door, knocking over the vase, while they’re walking out with your television set,” Comey said. “They’re just prolific. Their strategy seems to be: ‘We’ll just be everywhere all the time. And there’s no way they can stop us.'”
The FBI Director said Chinese-based hackers, who are regularly traced to the government and military, aren’t particularly good at obscuring their digital trails, yet still manage to infiltrate countless U.S. companies every year to steal billions in intellectual property.
“There are two kinds of big companies in the United States,” Comey explained. “There are those who’ve been hacked by the Chinese and those who don’t know they’ve been hacked by the Chinese.”
Earlier this summer Attorney General Eric Holder formally indicted Chinese military hackers for the first time with 31 charges of infiltrating and stealing trade secrets from steel, solar and nuclear manufacturers — the first time the U.S. has ever formally accused another nation of economic espionage. (RELATED: U.S. Charges Chinese Army Hackers With Stealing Secrets)
China responded by asserting the charges were “made up” and has continued to deny any allegations of cyber-theft. The Department of Justice described the indictment as the first of many to come.
Last Tuesday David Pokora, 22, of Ontario, Canada plead guilty to cyber theft of proprietary software belonging to Microsoft, the U.S. Army and others in what is believed to be the first conviction “of a foreign-based individual for hacking into U.S. businesses to steal trade secret information” — indicating a new push by the Justice Department to cub foreign cyber theft. (RELATED: Hackers Charged With Stealing Microsoft Xbox, U.S. Army Helicopter Software)
Last May Chinese hackers accessed blueprints for more than two dozen major U.S. weapons systems — including the new F-35 fighter jet under joint DOD and Lockheed Martin development — in the most prolific and damaging instance of cyber espionage yet, compromising not only intellectual property, but national security as well.