According to a U.S. cybersecurity firm, APT41, a hacking group linked to the Chinese government, stole trillions of dollars worth of intellectual property and sensitive data from about 30 multinational companies in the manufacturing, energy, and pharmaceutical industries via multiple cyber intrusions.

Cybereason, a Boston-based cybersecurity firm, through its Operation CuckooBees, finds that the group APT41 quote “has existed since at least 2010 and is believed to be operating on behalf of Chinese state interests and specializes in cyberespionage and intellectual property theft.” end-quote

It also finds that the hacker group has years of undetected cyber espionage intrusions with quote “the goal of stealing sensitive proprietary information from technology and manufacturing companies mainly in East Asia, Western Europe, and North America.” end-quote

Hundreds of gigabytes of sensitive data and intellectual property were stolen, including blueprints, charts, recipes, and proprietary manufacturing-related data.

The hacker group also collected information that could be used in future cyberattacks, such as details of the target company’s business units, network architecture, user accounts and credentials, employee emails, and customer data.

Cybereason has briefed the FBI and the Department of Justice (DOJ) about their investigation into the malicious cyber hacking operation.

In May 2021, the DOJ charged four Chinese nationals linked to APT41. Earlier, in September 2020, the DOJ indicted five members of this hacker group.

Regarding the damage, Cybereason CEO Lior Div told CBS News, quote “In our assessment, we believe that we’re talking about trillions, not billions.” end-quote

Div added, quote “The real impact is something we’re going to see in five years from now, ten years for now, when we think that we have the upper hand on pharmaceutical, energy, and defense technologies. And we’re going to look at China and say, how did they bridge the gap so quickly without the engineers and resources?” end-quote

China is well known for intellectual property stealing, along with other unfair trade practices like price dumpling or forced technology transfer.

The Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property estimated that the intellectual property thefts from China cost the U.S. from 225 billion to 600 billion dollars every year.

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