(AFP) China is waging an aggressive cyber-war against the United States that costs American business billions of dollars every year, Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey said Sunday.
The FBI chief told CBS television’s “60 Minutes” program China topped the list of countries seeking to pilfer secrets from US firms, suggesting that almost every major company in America had been targeted.
Annual losses from cyber-attacks launched from China were “impossible to count,” Comey said, but measured in “billions.”
Asked which countries were targeting the United States, Comey replied: “I don’t want to give you a complete list. But … I cant tell you top of the list is the Chinese.”
Comey cited the historic case of five members of China’s People’s Liberation Army indicted with hacking US companies for trade secrets, a move which outraged China when announced in May.
The case is the first-ever federal prosecution of state actors over cyber-espionage.
The PLA unit is accused of hacking into US computers to benefit Chinese state-owned companies, leading to job losses in the United States in steel, solar and other industries.
Comey said China was seeking to obtain “information that’s useful to them so they don’t have to invent.”
But China’s hacking efforts were often easy to detect, Comey said.
Last week, big bank JPMorgan Chase revealed that a hack it had reported in August had compromised data on 76 million household customers and seven million businesses, including their names, email addresses and telephone numbers.
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, speaking on ABC television, declined to address the JPMorgan Chase case specifically.
But he stressed: “we have made enormous efforts to bring attention to this and resources to this. The president (Barack Obama) has taken action through an executive order.
In August, the Federal Bureau of Investigation acknowledged that it and the US Secret Service were investigating the scope of recent cyberattacks against several US financial institutions.