Two Chinese nationals have been charged by the U.S. Department of Justice for a decade-long spying and intelligence-stealing operation. The indictment claims Li Xiaoyu and Dong Jiazhi stole data from large tech companies in different countries, including the U.S. for years, and recently attempted to steal information on coronavirus vaccine developments from U.S. companies.

WATCH: The Justice Dept. accused two Chinese hackers of stealing trade secrets and targeting firms developing a COVID-19 vaccine.

“We’re not just indicting them for their criminal activity,” Asst. AG John Demers told @nickschifrin, but also their activity “on behalf of” China.

— PBS NewsHour (@NewsHour) July 21, 2020

Firms in Maryland, Massachusetts, and California working on vaccines were targeted by the Chinese spies, as reported by Tech Crunch.

The pair hacked a Department of Energy network in Washington state, leading to their discovery by U.S. officials. Using different holes in software and password-stealing viruses, they dove deep into company and government databases, collecting secrets and data worth millions of dollars, according to the indictment.

Important U.S. military information was accessed as well.

“Li and Dong stole information regarding military satellite programs; military wireless networks and communications systems; high powered microwave and laser systems; a counter-chemical weapons system; and…helicopter integration systems,” reads the indictment.

U.S. Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers said to Tech Crunch “that the indictments were ‘concrete examples’ of how China used hackers to ‘rob, replicate and replace’ non-Chinese companies in the global marketplace.”

The pair is reportedly in mainland China currently, so the indictments may lead to little action, according to reports.

The disturbing news comes as the topic of China heats up on the campaign trail. Vice President Mike Pence recently said “Biden Pretends To Be Tough On China.”

The post Two Chinese Spies Charged for Hacking Sensitive COVID-19 Research appeared first on Sara A. Carter.

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