recommended reading

Security Firm Says Chinese Hackers Targeting U.S. Experts on Iraq

Duc Dao/Shutterstock.com

A private cyber security firm has discovered evidence that a suspected Chinese government hacker group has been targeting U.S. experts on Iraq.

CrowdStrike — a firm consisting of former U.S. government officials and credited with exposing the motives of Russian hacker group Energetic Bear — claims they have discovered that hackers belonging to "Deep Panda" have shifted from attacking experts associated with Southeast Asian geopolitical affairs to attacking the computers of U.S. think tank employees specializing in Iraq. The hacking began on June 18 —the day the rebel group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) attacked an oil refinery. 

"They immediately started going after Middle East specialists and experts, so it was a clear indication they were receiving tasking," CrowdStrike VP of Intelligence Adam Meyers told The Wire. "They're definitely one of the more advanced actors operating out of China."

In a company blog post published Monday, co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch wrote that Iraq, as the fifth-largest source of crude oil for China, presented a worthy target of concern for the Chinese government. 

Meyers says the group accessed digital documents by using "powershell scripts," a tool that initiates the download of a malicious software called "MadHatter" typically used by Deep Panda to infiltrate machines. The tool also doesn't leave data behind on victim disks, but because CrowdStrike had been tracing the group's activities since 2011 , the firm noticed the behavior pattern and attributed it to Deep Panda.

Chinese officials have already 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," spokesman Hong Lei said at a news conference in Beijing. "The evidence they produce is fundamentally untrustworthy and unworthy of comment."

Though Meyers said CrowdStrike does not know the size of Deep Panda, the firm has found the group tends to strike organizations en masse at least once a month. 

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

    Download
  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.