Federal prosecutors have charged two alleged members of a China-based hacking group with targeting U.S. businesses—including Anthem—in a series of computer intrusions dating back to at least 2014, the Department of Justice announced Thursday.
The incidents include a 2015 data breach at Anthem, which compromised the personal information of nearly 79 million people. Late last year, Anthem agreed to pay a record $16 million settlement over the breach. That's by far the largest HIPAA settlement reached by the HHS' Office for Civil Rights to date.
"The allegations in the indictment unsealed today outline the activities of a brazen China-based computer hacking group that committed one of the worst data breaches in history," Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski of the Justice Department's Criminal Division said in a statement.
The four-count indictment alleges that a Chinese national, 32-year-old Fujie Wang, and an unnamed co-defendant gained entry into the computer systems of Anthem and three other unnamed U.S. businesses. The defendants allegedly collected and stole data from the compromised systems.
Wang allegedly controlled two domain names associated with backdoor malware and spearfishing attacks used by the hacking group.
The defendants allegedly accessed Anthem's computer network multiple times during 2014 and 2015. On multiple occasions in January 2015, the defendants allegedly transferred files containing personal information from Anthem's enterprise data warehouse to destinations China.
Wang and the unnamed defendant are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit fraud and related activity in relation to computers and identity theft, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and two substantive counts of intentional damage to a protected computer.
Investigators praised Anthem for its cooperation with the investigation.
"The speed with which Anthem initially notified the FBI of the intrusion on their networks was also a key factor in being able to determine who was responsible for the breach and should serve as an example to other organizations that might find themselves in a similar situation," Special Agent in Charge Grant Mendenhall said in a statement.