Chinese hackers said to target U.S. tech and pharma companies

Chinese hackers linked to the mainland government attempted to gain entry into computer systems at 7 companies including two unnamed pharmaceutical companies, according to a U.S. cybersecurity researcher.

Chinese President Xi Jinping

Reports from Reuters and the Wall Street Journal said this week that the attacks began on Sept. 26, but were ultimately unsuccessful. News of the attacks came a day after President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping had agreed to stop any government attempts to penetrate corporate networks to support their respective domestic industries.

The security firm Crowdstrike said it believed the hackers were connected to the Chinese government based on the server addresses and software used, Reuters reported.

The "primary benefits" of the hack were to steal intellectual property and trade secrets and not for traditional espionage data that deals with national security, Crowdstrike told Reuters.

White House officials told Reuters they would not comment on Crowdstrike's findings. But they said they would judge China "based on its actions" when it comes to cybersecurity in light of the agreement reached between Obama and Xi.

Pharmaceutical companies are a natural target for hackers looking to help their clients or employers shave years and billions of dollars off the time and expense of creating modern drugs.

Hackers have also recently sought to break into drug companies' systems to learn about product developments before they are announced so they can make millions trading shares of the companies involved.

- here's the story from Reuters
- and one from the WSJ