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China, Russia involved in state-sponsored data theft

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HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — Any discussion of state-sponsored data theft “has to start with China,” a cyber security expert said Tuesday.

Chinese hackers used to concentrate on intellectual property theft such as trade secrets, said Grady Summers, chief technology officer at Milpitas, California-based technology security firm FireEye Inc.

But their focus has shifted, with recent attacks attempting to gather personal data such as individual medical records or salary histories. They're doing so because they want to know as much as possible about human targets and their potential vulnerabilities to compromise individuals for intelligence reasons.

Speaking Tuesday to the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America's annual meeting in Hollywood, Florida, Mr. Summers said that despite a recently announced agreement between China and the United States to end Chinese hacking, there has been no reduction in Chinese-based hacking activities.

“It's absolutely kept up,” he said.

Russia has been engaged in hacking as well, initially through criminal enterprises seeking to steal financial information. But with the outbreak of hostilities in Ukraine and other intentional confrontations, Russia is pivoting toward political targets, he said.

“Cyber tensions mirror real-world tensions,” Mr. Summers said.