Skip to main content

William Barr
  Attorney General Barr on Chinese Hack of Equifax  CSPAN  February 10, 2020 1:38pm-2:01pm EST

1:38 pm
gelg -- buttigieg. you can listen live on the free c-span radio app. will be in new hampshire today as well. he's holding a rally in manchester. live at 7:00 p.m. eastern on c-span3. >> the new hampshire primary is tuesday. watch results and candidate p.m. es starting at 7:30 eastern. live on c-span. or listen on the free c-span radio app. >> a look at this week in the u.s. house. members open today's session at :00 eastern with legislative work at about 3:30. nine bills are on the agenda today dealing with homeland issues. later this week, the house will removing egislation the deadline for the ratification of the equal rights amendment and the president 2021 budget to
1:39 pm
congress today. hearings on various budget requests throughout the week. > the justice department says four members of the chinese military have been charged with breaking into the computer equifax of the reporting agency and stealing the information of tens of of americans. attorney general william barr held a briefing today on the charges. attorney general barr: good morning, everyone, and thank you for joining us. to re i get started, i want express my outrage at the attempt of assassination of two new york city police officers. as many of you know, i'd recently been up there to visit is a he nypd, and that force that does exceptional work
1:40 pm
for the people of new york. to know that m they have the full support of his administration and this department of justice. the ere to announce indictment of chinese military hackers, specifically four of the chinese people's liberation army, for breaking systems of theer credit reporting agency equifax. nd for stealing the sensitive personal information of nearly half of all american citizens. and also equifax's hard-earned intellectual property. was one of the largest data breaches in history. summer to light in the of 2017 when equifax announced the theft. scale of the theft was staggering. as alleged in the indictment, hackers obtained the names, birth dates, and social security of nearly 150 million
1:41 pm
mericans, and the drivers' licenses of approximately 10 -- of at least 10 million americans. theft not only caused significant financial damage to equifax, but invaded the privacy of many millions americans and and substantial costs burdens on them as they had to take measures to protect identity theft. as described in the indictment, equifax'ss broke into network through a vulnerability in the company's dispute system.on once in the network, the hackers pent weeks conducting reconnaissance, uploading malicious software, and stealing credentials. all to set up the stage to steal data from s of equifax's systems. while doing this, the hackers equifax's trade ecrets, embodied by the compiled data and complex
1:42 pm
database designs used to store information. those trade secrets were the investmentdecades of and hard work by the company. comes afteruncement two years of investigation. to the nine-count indictment handed down by the grand jury in atlanta, four of the chinese people liberation army are alleged to equifax'sired to hack computer systems and commit espionage. this kind of attack on american is of a peace with hinese legal acquisitions of sensitive personal data. for years, we have witnessed appetite -- arabs veriation appetite of americans, including the theft of personnel records from the office of anagement and budget, the
1:43 pm
intrusion of marriott hotels and now the wholesale of credit and from equifax.ion this data has economic value and needs thefts can feed china's of artificial intelligence tools as well as he creation of intelligence targeted packages. in addition to the thefts of data, our ersonal cases reveal a pattern of state intrusions mputer and thefts by china, targeting confidential and business information. acks by the group known as apt-10, which worked in ssociation with the chinese ministry of state security, or target manage service providers and their clients worldwide across industries. m.s.s. intelligence officers who sought to steal ntellectual property relating to turbofan engines by using
1:44 pm
oth insiders and computer operations. and hacks by p.l.a. officers who the nuclear ims in power, metals, and solar products industries for the benefit of chinese companies. our d, about 80% of economic espionage prosecutions the chinese ed government. nd about 60% of all trade secret theft cases in recent years involves some connection with china. we normally don't bring criminal of ges against members another country's military or ntelligence services outside the united states. in general, traditional military is a telligence activity separate sphere of conduct that ught not be subject of the domestic criminal law. there are exceptions, however. we have brought
1:45 pm
charges against intelligence undercover inting the united states, and more recently, we have charged state ponsor actors for computer intrusions in the united states for the purpose of intellectual for the use of their private sector. bank robbery and interference with our democratic elections. cases, the deliberate, indiscriminate theft datast amounts of personal of civilians, as occurred here, cannot be countenance. like other tates, nations, has gathered intelligence throughout its ensure that national security and foreign policy decisionmakers have access to timely, accurate, and inciteful information. we -- insightful information. but we collect information only national security purposes. we don't indiscriminate levi privacy of ordinary
1:46 pm
citizens. would not be possible ithout the dedicated work of federal prosecutors here in atlanta and in washington, d.c. in addition, the department's affairs international provided valuable assistance in countries to ther evidence. equifax's cooperation throughout the investigation was critical this case.lopment of i'll take a question before the floor over to others. pierre. reporter: senator graham said providing ni will be the department information on information related to the bidens.and the what's the process of receiving this information? who will evaluate it? the is something you feel need to recuse yourself of? attorney general barr: as i the d.o.j. has
1:47 pm
the obligation to have an open to anybody who wishes to provide us information that they think is relevant. senator did say to graham in -- we have to be very -- with respect to any information coming from the ukraine. a lot of agendas in the ukraine. there are loose of crosscurrents, and we can't anything we receive from ukraine value. for that reason, we had an intake process in the field so any information ukraine could be carefully scrutinized by the its intelligence community partners. its at we could assess prove thens and -- prove assistance and its credibility. information or all that comes to the department
1:48 pm
relating to the ukraine, giuliani anything mr. might provide. now, let me -- attorney general barr: now, let me introduce to the u.s. who will f atlanta, take it from here. b.j. attorney general barr. i'd like to commend the federal also of the f.b.i. and the prosecutors in the department of justice for their great work in this matter. want to emphasize the valuable ooperation that he cequifax has provided. they are the one that provided the intrusion to law enforcement. they have taken -- we've taken it from there. happy to take any have.ons you may reporter: [inaudible] china? to is this the largest theft d.o.j.
1:49 pm
is alleging that chinese military hackers committed? i'll back to the attorney general's statement, it's the largest in terms of the information. i'll -- >> i can answer that if you want. >> sure. how you s it depends count but in terms of the number of people's information who was stolen, it may very well be the biggest that west. it is one of the biggest. a lot of there are ifferent ways to count that data. questions after this. yeah. indiscernible] >> all right, no problem. >> thank you. >> thank you. been saying., we've for years that china will do anything it can to replace the as the world's
1:50 pm
leading superpower. targeting our technology and our trade secrets and has een for some time, we know that. but as the attorney general noted previously, this than ment is more targeting just an american business. it's about the brazen theft of information sonal of nearly 150 million americans. largest theft of sensitive p.i.i., state -- by state sponsored hackers ever recorded. this indictment is also a attacks on th their our economy, our cyberinfrastructure, and our one of the ina is most significant threats to our national security today. proud of our field office in atlanta, and you see their special agent in charge up here, hacker, as well as the u.s. attorney, b.j. pack, from atlanta. of both our office and the u.s. attorney offices in atlanta. these cases are tedious. technical.
1:51 pm
and they are difficult, and they time. the combination of those u.s. attorneys as well as the f.b.i. participated is a valiant effort to get through a impact.this s.a.c. chris hacker up here remind youe first to that cases like this depend on the strength of our many partnerships. atlanta was d, supported, certainly by our folks here in our cyberdivision headquarters, by the u.s. attorney's office in the northern district of georgia, as the ously mentioned, by department of justice here, and y many other law enforcement and intelligence community partners here at home and in early 20 countries throughout the world. we're thankful for this invaluable assistance they provided along the way. we also want to thank he cequif for their close collaboration us throughout this process. i cannot overstate the companyce of the victim working closely with us after an
1:52 pm
this.ion like this investigation started with minimal evidence. i.p. addresses for service -- servers located throughout the world. nd a handful of malicious computer programs. the hackers tried to hide the location of the internet traffic by using servers around the world to equifax's net, would. but their attempts to cover their tracks failed. a ton of forensic data, including network logs and computer images and we malwear. we on -- mal-ware. the hackers to the intrusion. that's how we were able to trace unprecedented hack back to the individuals who were named in today's indictment. testament to the hard work and determination of veryone involved in this investigation. we've seen so many breaches
1:53 pm
since 2017. them. seen many of and we've almost become as a country immune to these breaches. to notice in the mail or you hear about it in the news. goes my , well, there credit card number, my social security number, my bank account you sign up for another year of free credit card monitoring information. we cannot think like this in this country. american businesses cannot be protecting bout their data and their ntellectual property from our adversaries. as american citizens, we cannot be complacent about protecting sensitive personal data. we in law enforcement will not just ckers off the hook because they're halfway around the world. we've got to do everything we people safe, secure, and confident online. why we're here today years after this investigation calling out the chinese government for its
1:54 pm
illegal activity. time in nly the second our history that we've indicted chinese military hackers. some might wonder what good it does when these hackers are seemingly beyond our reach. answer this question all the time. we try to -- we can't take them custody, try them in a court of law and lock them up. anyway.y, but one day these criminals will slip up and when they do, we'll there. and we'll keep putting pressure on these bad actors, making sure they understand the risks and the consequences of their actions. use our unique authorities, our experiences, and our capabilities with the our partners, both at home and abroad, to fight this hreat each and every day, and we continue to do so. i want to make one very important point. our concern is not with the hinese people or with the
1:55 pm
chinese american. it is with the chinese chinese t and the communist party. confronting this threat we ctively does not mean should not do business with students, chinese welcome chinese visitors, or with china as a country on the world stage. what it does mean is that when our criminal laws and international norms, we will and we will hold them accountable for it. we will protect our nation's and its ideas, and we will protect our citizens' personal information. thank you. yes. question.quick beyond privacy concerns for millions of americans, can you about little bit more the national security implications of targeting the d.o.j. mentioned intellectual -- intelligence targeting by the perhaps government
1:56 pm
officials and others? david: sure. too deep oing to get into that. i will say, look, if you can get people, personal identifiable information, it can be monetized. can be used in many, many ways. it can be used for targeting packages for u.s. government officials. that is certainly a possibility. we have not seen that in this knowledge.r that does not mean it will not happen in the future. certainly, i think one thing that china recognizes very well is a healthy economy is to a healthy national security. said some ou americans are immune to this process. our credit cards are stolen, they get a notice in the mail. people that are panicking, that will panic when they hear this information? what should the average american do that's thinking, oh, my goodness, these guys could be up to more? china?uld be in god knows where they are right now. what's your message to them? certainly, they should know already because this was
1:57 pm
nnounced publicly -- not the attribution but the intrusion was announced previously. hat said, they should be in contact with their credit monitoring services. there are a number of things do. can first of all, prevention of attacks, i.e., speer phishing. don't open links from untrusted servers. two-factor authentication. making sure their data nd their information is a hard target. and checking their credit scores a a fairly regular basis is well.l step as i think they should go about their daily lives. they should not panic but they data and e sure their information is secure. reporter: is there evidence that is already mation being used? david: there is not at this time. is, ter: the question then how is it different from the
1:58 pm
type of collection that the the d states does all over world, type of collection that we do here in this country? follow-up for you to the question we asked the attorney general before he fled, can you tell us what the f.b.i. is doing with this giuliani information? is it different the way the f.b.i. handled the steele cameer and the information back? david: in the second part, i want to be fair to the attorney general. fled for ke the word any attorney general. as what is thear magnitude of this attack is so important. roughly 320 million americans. lost llion americans sensitive p.i.i. that does not sound like intelligence activity to me. that sounds like very broad collection. secondly, i will stand on the attorney general's previous answer. look, n the information,
1:59 pm
we're taking information as we would in any case. we will evaluate it appropriately. >> you mentioned american to be vigilant. in the case of equifax, there was an alert that went out in 2017, that said you have a flaw in your software and they id not update their software and that flaw was used to take this data. so if equifax had done the to do, hey were advised would any of this data been stolen? david: i don't know the answer that to the civil remedies that have been applied already. last question. reporter: yes. just to follow-up on evan's question there. s the f.b.i. investigating joe or hunter biden at this point? david: i am not going to talk about any investigation, as i would. we do not talk about open investigations. >> and the house about to gavel
2:00 pm
back in. back around 3:30 for legislative work. nine bills on the agenda today dealing with homeland security issues. later this he can would, the will consider legislation removing the deadline for ratification of the equal rights amendment. and the president is delivering his 2021 budget plan to congress today. will be taking place through the week on various budget requests. take you live now to the house here on c-span.