Chinese hackers stole millions worth of US COVID relief money, Secret Service says

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Chinese hackers have stolen tens of millions of dollars worth of US COVID relief benefits since 2020, the Secret Service said on Monday.

The Secret Service declined to provide any additional details but confirmed a report by NBC News that said the Chinese hacking team that is reportedly responsible is known within the security research community as APT41 or Winnti.

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APT41 is a prolific cybercriminal group that had conducted a mix of government-backed cyber intrusions and financially motivated data breaches, according to experts.

Several members of the hacking group were indicted in 2019 and 2020 by the US Justice Department for spying on over 100 companies, including software development companies, telecommunications providers, social media firms, and video game developers.

“Regrettably, the Chinese Communist Party has chosen a different path of making China safe for cybercriminals so long as they attack computers outside China and steal intellectual property helpful to China,” former Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said at the time.

The Chinese embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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