MASSENA - Congressman William L. Owens said Mondays news that five Chinese militants had been indicted on espionage charges is a sign that the U.S. Justice Department is doing what it can to protect the trade secrets of American businesses, including Alcoa, which houses two plants in Massena.
Wang Dong, Sun Kailiang, Wen Xinyu, Huang Zhenyu and Gu Chunhui were each charged with 31 counts of cyber espionage, after allegedly stealing trade secrets from five companies and the United Steelworkers Union.
These grand jury indictments announced by the U.S. Justice Department are an important step forward in stopping the theft of trade secrets from U.S. companies, Mr. Owens said. Many of these companies are worldwide leaders in their industry.
Alcoas Director of Corporate Affairs Monica Orbe noted that the hacking is believed to have occurred several years ago, and its impact on the company has been minimal at best.
To our knowledge, no material information was compromised during this incident, which occurred several years ago, she said, noting data protection is one of the companys top priorities.
Safeguarding our data is a top priority for Alcoa and we continue to invest resources to protect our systems.
According to a release from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, other involved companies included Westinghouse Electric Company, Allegheny Technologies, U.S. Steel Corp and SolarWorld.
These indictments are a good sign that the justice department is cracking down to protect the trade secrets of leading businesses that employ millions of Americans across the country, Mr. Owens said.
In Massena, Alcoa employs more than 800 people and is one of St. Lawrence Countys largest employers.
As long as hackers can steal and sell industry secrets from U.S. companies, thousands of jobs and the future of U.S. global competitiveness are at risk, Mr. Owens said. This is more than a diplomatic or trade problem. The damage done to these U.S. companies can be measured in terms of jobs lost and jobs never created in placed like Massena and the Adirondacks.
Chinas Foreign Ministry responded in a statement by calling the charges ungrounded and absurd.
China is steadfast in upholding cyber security, the statement read. The Chinese government, the Chinese military and their relevant personnel have never engaged or participated in cyber theft of trade secrets. The U.S. accusation against Chinese personnel is purely ungrounded and absurd.
The hackers are alleged to have stolen emails and other communications that could have helped Chinese firms learn the strategies and weaknesses of American companies involved in litigation with the Chinese government or Chinese firms.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.