The Justice Department filed criminal charges against five hackers in the Chinese military Monday, accusing them of stealing American trade secrets through cyber-espionage.
The efforts were directed at six American victim companies: Westinghouse Electric, U.S. subsidiaries of SolarWorld AG, U.S. Steel, Allegheny Technologies and Alcoa. The United Steel Workers union was also targeted.
Each of the alleged hackers was hit with 31 criminal counts for a conspiracy that stretched back eight years, officials said.
“This is a case alleging economic espionage by members of the Chinese military and represents the first-ever charges against a state actor for this type of hacking,” Attorney General Eric Holder said. "Enough is enough," Holder said at a press conference.
FBI Director James Comey told NBC News, “For too long, the Chinese government has blatantly sought to use cyber-espionage to obtain economic advantage for its state-owned industries.”
The FBI tracked the computer attacks to Unit 61398 of the Third Department of the People's Liberation Army, headquartered in a building in Shanghai, officials said.