Charges Against Chinese Hackers Are Now Common. Why Don’t They Deter Cyberattacks?

In May 2014, then-Attorney General Eric Holder announced charges against five members of the Chinese military.

They’d allegedly hacked the computer networks of American companies and stolen everything from intellectual property and trade secrets to the firms’ litigation strategies.

The indictment was the first brought by the United States publicly against state-sponsored hackers for cybercrimes targeting U.S. firms. In the nearly five years since then, the Justice Department has unveiled one China-related hacking indictment after another, including cases against at least a dozen individuals and companies last year alone.

But China’s rampant cybertheft has not stopped, officials say.

Most of the defendants, meanwhile, remain in China and are unlikely to ever see the inside of a U.S. courtroom. That’s fueling questions about whether the strategy of indicting suspected Chinese hackers is a failure.

“It does not seem to have stopped the Chinese and it certainly doesn’t seem to have imposed any cost on them to

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