FBI Arrests Chinese Citizen Suspected of Involvement in Huge US Govt Data Breach

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A Chinese national arrested this week at Los Angeles International Airport may be involved in the 2014-2015 US Office of Personnel Management (OPM) data breach that compromised the data of millions of American government employees.

While on a visit to the US, 36-year-old Yu Pingan of Shanghai was arrested because of a federal criminal complaint accusing him of collaborating with others to launch cyberattacks against a series of unnamed US companies using malicious software.

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An FBI official said in an affidavit linked to the complaint that he believed Yu provided versions of a program known as Sakula to two co-conspirators based in China, knowing they would be used to carry out attacks on the firms.

The same program was used in multiple major breaches in the US including the 2014-2015 OPM breach, which resulted in the exposure of government employees' personal information, such as their addresses, social security numbers and fingerprints. US officials have blamed the attack on the Chinese government, but Chinese authorities denied any involvement.

The complaint doesn't directly accuse Yu — who authorities said used the nickname GoldSun — of personally being responsible for the OPM hacking but suggests there may be a connection.

Yu's court-appointed attorney, Michael Berg, claimed the detained man was a teacher with no affiliation with the Chinese government.

"He says he has no involvement in this whatsoever," Berg said, adding that Yu came to Los Angeles for a conference, as reported by Reuters.

Yu remains in jail pending a court hearing on his detention next week.

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