hackers turned focus to U.S. experts on Iraq: security
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[July 08, 2014]
By Joseph Menn
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A
sophisticated group of hackers believed to be associated
with the Chinese government, who for years targeted U.S
experts on Asian geopolitical matters, suddenly began
breaching computers belonging to experts on Iraq as the
rebellion there escalated, a security firm said on
CrowdStrike Inc said that the group is one of the most sophisticated
of the 30 it tracks in China and that its operations are better
hidden than many attributed to military and other government units.
CrowdStrike co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch said he has "great
confidence" the hackers are affiliated with the government, though
he declined to provide many details on the matter.
China's Foreign Ministry repeated that the government opposed
hacking and dismissed the report.
"Some U.S. Internet security firms ignore the U.S. threat to the
Internet and constantly seize upon the so-called China Internet
threat. The evidence they produce is fundamentally untrustworthy and
unworthy of comment," spokesman Hong Lei told a daily news briefing
CrowdStrike has a number of former U.S. government officials on its
staff and has produced a number of influential reports on overseas
The United States will press China to resume cooperation on fighting
cyber espionage to ensure an orderly cyber environment, a senior
U.S. official said on Tuesday ahead of annual talks between the
world's two largest economies this week in Beijing.(Full Story)
Over the past three years, CrowdStrike said it has seen the group it
calls "Deep Panda" target defense, financial and other industries in
the United States. It has also gone after workers at think tanks who
specialize in Southeast Asian affairs, including former government
On June 18, the same day the rebel group Islamic State of Iraq and
the Levant, which is also called ISIS, attacked an oil refinery, the
Chinese group began going after the digital documents of U.S. think
tank employees who are experts in that region, Alperovitch said.
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He said that Iraq is the fifth-largest source of crude for China,
while China is the largest foreign investor in Iraq's oil
infrastructure, so it would be natural for China to be concerned
about the insurrection and potential U.S. responses.
Alperovitch said that while hacking groups suspected of government
backing do shift the industries they are going after, he could not
recall such a sudden change in "tasking" before this.
"It really suggests you have pretty good control from probably very
high levels of Chinese government over these individuals," he said.
Alperovitch declined to identify the think tanks, which are using
CrowdStrike's detection and analysis tools free of charge.
(Additional reporting by Michael Martina and Lesley Wroughton in
BEIJING; Editing by Bernard Orr and Matt Driskill)
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