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Notorious Chinese hackers charged in elaborate scheme to steal and sell online game loot


The United States Justice Department announced charges today against five Chinese hackers for their role in spying on and stealing millions of dollars from over a hundred companies around the world. But of the several indictments released by the department, one details an elaborate scheme involving these hackers and two Malaysian businessmen to illegally gain access to various online games, generate fake items, and then sell them for real-world profit online.

The Chinese hackers in question belong to a group known as APT41 (also called Barium) that has been at large since early 2012 and is widely believed to work—at least in part—with the Chinese government. APT41 is accused of breaking into hundreds of networks around the world, ranging from universities and foreign government agencies, to spy and steal using methods like ransomware and phishing. Just last year, for example, APT41 allegedly hijacked Asus’ Live Update software to install backdoors into potentially hundreds of thousands of computers using Asus’ own servers. Now the US government has named the five suspects and charged them with several dozen accounts of fraud and identity theft.

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