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Threat Intelligence

12/28/2018
02:20 PM
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US Petroleum Employee Charged with Stealing Trade Secrets for Chinese Firm

Longtime US resident allegedly stole information for petroleum firm in China that had offered him a position.

A Chinese national was arrested in the US last week for allegedly stealing intellectual property from a US petroleum company where he was employed. Hongjin Tan, 35, is charged with pilfering some $1 billion in trade secrets on behalf of a Chinese petroleum firm where he was offered a new job.

The stolen data was for the manufacture of a "research and development downstream energy market product," according to a US Department of Justice criminal complaint filed in the case. According to the complaint, Tan downloaded hundreds of data files from the US petroleum company in the alleged theft.

"The theft of intellectual property harms American companies and American workers. As our recent cases show, all too often these thefts involve the Chinese government or Chinese companies. The Department recently launched an initiative to protect our economy from such illegal practices emanating from China, and we continue to make this a top priority," said US Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers in a statement. 

US government officials last week also indicted two members of a Chinese nation-state hacking team known as APT10.

Read more details here.

 

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RyanSepe
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RyanSepe,
User Rank: Ninja
1/2/2019 | 10:48:47 AM
Re: Even citizens influenced
Makes sense, logically, to extort/target the smaller entity. It's an interesting perspective of leverage that you are discussing. I'd imagine if this is in fact the case here that it would be difficult to prove for the accused?

What would you say would be the appropriate response before and perhaps even after the extortion occurs in a scenario such as that for the accused?
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
12/31/2018 | 10:33:12 PM
Even citizens influenced
Despite this suspect being a Chinese national, I shared a conversation with a security executive recently about the fact that these insider threats sometimes occur from otherwise loyal employees who get extorted to offer access to "small" things because nation-state actors have compromised that employee's social/financial/health/etc. information elsewhere. (Think an employee at a major government contractor, for instance.)

This is why nation-state hackers target seemingly arbitrary targets like universities, hotels, etc. If they get a few juicy tidbits of information related to contractors/academic partners/etc. involved in government work, it pays off better and bigger than attacking the government agency itself directly.
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