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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Justice Department announced Monday that it indicted four members of China's military in relation to the 2017 Equifax data breach that compromised the data of more than 147 million Americans.

Why it matters: The announcement comes at a fraught time for U.S.-China relations — just weeks after the signing of a critical "phase one" trade deal that ratcheted down economic tension between the two nations — and marks only the second time that the U.S. government has charged Chinese military hackers.

  • The hack, which also exposed some of the company's trade secrets, also brings the issue of Chinese government-backed intellectual property theft — a top Trump administration worry — back to the forefront.
  • It isn't the first massive China-backed corporate hack, as a Marriott data breach that affected as many as 500 million customers as far back as 2014 was tied to Chinese intelligence services in 2018.

The big picture: Attorney General William Barr called the breach, which utilized a security vulnerability in the software for the firm's online dispute portal, a "deliberate and sweeping intrusion into the private information of the American people."

  • The DOJ said that the hackers "ran approximately 9,000 queries on Equifax’s system, obtaining names, birth dates and Social Security numbers for nearly half of all American citizens."

Read the indictment:

Go deeper

Salesforce rolls the dice on Slack

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Salesforce's likely acquisition of workplace messaging service Slack — not yet a done deal but widely anticipated to be announced Tuesday afternoon — represents a big gamble for everyone involved.

For Slack, challenged by competition from Microsoft, the bet is that a deeper-pocketed owner like Salesforce, with wide experience selling into large companies, will help the bottom line.

FBI stats show border cities are among the safest

Data: FBI, Kansas Bureau of Investigation; Note: This table includes the eight largest communities on the U.S.-Mexico border and eight other U.S. cities similar in population size and demographics; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

U.S. communities along the Mexico border are among the safest in America, with some border cities holding crime rates well below the national average, FBI statistics show.

Why it matters: The latest crime data collected by the FBI from 2019 contradicts the narrative by President Trump and others that the U.S.-Mexico border is a "lawless" region suffering from violence and mayhem.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
26 mins ago - Science

The rise of military space powers

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Nations around the world are shoring up their defensive and offensive capabilities in space — for today's wars and tomorrow's.

Why it matters: Using space as a warfighting domain opens up new avenues for technologically advanced nations to dominate their enemies. But it can also make those countries more vulnerable to attack in novel ways.