Chinese authorities lure translators into ‘digital espionage’

(ORDO NEWS) — The Financial Times published an article claiming that China is recruiting translation graduates to spy for the country. They form groups to attack research institutes.

Citizens who were recent students are being recruited into the APT40 hacker group, known for its attacks on biomedical, robotics and maritime research institutes. They were supposed to be engaged in espionage and translation of stolen documents.

Spy translators

– The publication found and contacted 140 potential recruiting candidates who studied English at public universities in Hainan, Sichuan and Xi’an. They responded to a job advertisement for Hainan Xiandun, located on Hainan Island.

– The journalists managed to find out that the recruitment process was strange from the very beginning. For example, the test task was to translate confidential documents received from US government agencies , as well as instructions for researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

– As a result, the journalists found out that the Hainan Xiandun company appears as a cover for the Chinese hacker group APT40. Western intelligence agencies have accused APT40 of infiltrating government offices, companies, and universities in the United States, Canada, Europe, and the Middle East on the orders of China’s Ministry of State Security.

– The FBI tried to interfere with the activities of Hainan Xiandun. In July 2021, three state security officials in Hainan Province were indicted for their likely role in setting up a front company for state-backed espionage. Another person is believed to be a hacker who helped control Hainan Xiandun employees.

It is noted that job advertisements from the company were posted on the websites of universities for translators without further explanation of the nature of the work.

Apparently, Hainan Xiandun maintains a close relationship with Hainan University: the company is registered on the first floor of the university library, where the student computer lab was located.

Therefore, the FBI accused the university of facilitating the recruitment of hackers.


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