China recruits university students for espionage against Western targets
Hackers with suspected ties to China's intelligence agencies are still looking for new recruits to work on cyber espionage.
Even after US law enforcement agencies accused Beijing of using such companies as a "front" for spying operations against western targets, Hainan Xiandun, a Chinese technology company, is actively recruiting Chinese university students as English language translators.
Even after the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) indicted the perpetrators in an effort to disrupt their activities, hackers with suspected ties to China's intelligence agencies are still looking for new recruits to work on cyber espionage.
In yet another covert move, Beijing is enticing job-seekers to commit state-sponsored espionage against Western targets, as well as persuading them to translate confidential stolen papers obtained from various government agencies.
According to the Hong Kong Post, in order to hire these Chinese university students, the country conceals information about the actual duties that they will have to perform once hired.
As part of Beijing's massive intelligence apparatus, the students are led into working for a top-secret technology firm, identifying potential Western targets for espionage and interpreting stolen papers.
This job has been targeted for approximately 140 potential translators, the majority of whom are recent graduates who studied English at public colleges in Hainan, Sichuan, and Xian.
People in the Chinese province of Hainan applied for job openings with a company called Hainan Xiandun. The application process included translation tests on confidential documents obtained from US government agencies, according to a shocking revelation.
There were also orders to conduct research at Johns Hopkins University, a major target for espionage.
According to a 2021 US federal indictment, the Chinese hacking organisation APT40 used the Chinese firm Hainan Xiandun as a front. Western intelligence agencies previously reported that China's Ministry of State Security had sent APT40 to infiltrate colleges, businesses, and government organisations across the United States, Canada, Europe, and the Middle East.
Last July, the US investigation bureau, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, indicted three state security officers in the province of Hainan in order to halt Hainan Xiandun's operations.
These operations are said to have played a role in the establishment of the company as a front for state-sponsored espionage.
Ding Xiaoyang, Cheng Qingmin, and Zhu Yunmin are the names of these state security officials. Another person named in the indictment, Wu Shurong, is thought to be a hacker who helped manage staff at Hainan Xiandun.
This has become part of the Chinese strategy of luring graduate students into a career in espionage. Not only that, but Chinese university websites also posted job advertisements for translators with no additional information about the nature of the work.