MILPITAS (KPIX 5) — Never before has the U.S. Government publicly accused another country of a cyber-espionage.  But that’s essentially what happened Monday morning when grand jury in Pennsylvania indicted five Chinese military hackers, following a report from a Bay Area cybersecurity firm.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder made the announcement, calling it the first ever charges against a state actor for this type of hacking.

Read More:

At a press conference on Monday, the U.S. Department of Justice released an unusual wanted poster that revealed the faces of five Chinese Army officials. All are charged with hacking into private U.S. companies, with the intent to spy and steal.

“They’re typically after intellectual property that the rest of the world is innovated on,” said Dave DeWalt of FireEye.

Key to the action is a report issued by Mandiant, a division of the Milpitas cybersecurity firm.

FireEye monitors sophisticated cyber-attacks, that occur daily around the world and Mandiant’s report, issued last year, links an elite Chinese army base in Shanghai – where these suspects work, to the systematic theft of hundreds of terabytes of data

As to what these cyber spies want? “It could be health care needs, new drug products coming on the market, new high tech products. It could be the latest fire bomber so you’re seeing a lot of design to go after intellectual property,” explained DeWalt.

China denies the charges, and is unlikely to hand over the suspects.