China's back to being the FBI's top super villain

On Sunday, during 60 Minutes, the FBI's director says China is on the top of their list

unit61398

Part of the building of 'Unit 61398', a secretive Chinese military unit, is seen in the outskirts of Shanghai February 19, 2013.

Credit: REUTERS/Carlos Barria

On Sunday, during an airing of 60 Minutes on CBS, James Comey, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said that Web-based attacks against the U.S. cost American businesses billions of dollars yearly.

"There are two kinds of big companies in the United States," Comey said, "There are those who’ve been hacked by the Chinese, and those who don't know they've been hacked by the Chinese."

Adding that annual losses form China's hackers were "impossible" to count, Comey noted that the tally was in the billions. He referenced the indictment of five Chinese military personnel for hacking U.S. firms in the nuclear, metals, and solar power industries, handed down in May, as just one example of costly attacks.

Comey said that China's hackers target industrial secrets and do what they do, so that they "don't have to invent."

"They can copy or steal to learn about how a company might approach negotiations with a Chinese company all manner of things," he added.

The story on 60 Minutes almost seems like a reminder to the nation that China is the bad guy, given that Russia is taking the heat for the nation's largest data breach at JPMorgan Chase – and the group that's said to be behind that incident is being blamed for nine others.

However, while there is plenty of blame, there is little evidence to support those claims. The same problem exists each time China is in the news too.

That's not to say that elements in Russia and China haven't attacked the U.S., clearly they have, but there's serious doubt that they are launching attacks on the scale that the government is hyping them up to be.

Speaking to Web-based crime in general, Comey said that it is becoming everything in crime.

"Again, because people have connected their entire lives to the Internet, that's where those who want to steal money or hurt kids or defraud go. So it's an epidemic for reasons that make sense."

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