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U.S. charges 4 Chinese military members in Equifax hack

The Department of Justice has charged four members of the Chinese military in its investigation of the massive Equifax data breach.

The four members of the People's Liberation Army of China were charged Monday with hacking into the networks of credit reporting agency Equifax and stealing the personal information of about 145 million Americans. They were also charged with taking Equifax's trade secrets in what Attorney General William Barr called "a deliberate and sweeping intrusion into the private information of the American people."

Essentially half of America's population and many other people worldwide had their personal data breached in the Equifax hack, first exposed in 2017. That data included names and Social Security numbers, giving the breach a reputation as one of the largest of all time, both in terms of scale and what data was released. Equifax's CEO Richard Smith was forced into resignation after the incident, which also spurred congressional hearings and eventually a settlement of around $650 million.

The Justice Department similarly charged PLA members with hacking other American corporations back in 2014. With Monday's charge, "we remind the Chinese government that we have the capability to remove the Internet's cloak of anonymity and find the hackers that nation repeatedly deploys against us," Barr said in a press conference.