SECURITY FIRM Crowdstrike has reported that a sophisticated Chinese hacking group has recently switched targets from the US to Iraq, but is still seeking US-related information.
Crowdstrike, whose Falcon Host tool is used globally, said that it had noticed the change in target after a three-year study of such hacking groups.
"For almost three years now, Crowdstrike has monitored Deep Panda targeting critical and strategic business verticals including: government, defense, financial, legal, and the telecommunications industries," said the firm.
"At the think tanks, Falcon Host detected targeting of senior individuals involved in geopolitical policy issues, in particular in the China/Asia Pacific region. However, last week the unprecedented real-time visibility provided by Falcon Host into this actor's escapades allowed analysts to observe a radical change in targeting."
This "radical change" does not seem so radical when you consider that the US is likely to have a military and oil-related interest in Iraq, something that the security firm acknowledged.
"Iraq happens to be the fifth-largest source of crude oil imports for China and the country is the largest foreign investor in Iraq's oil sector," it added.
"Thus, it wouldn't be surprising if the Chinese government is highly interested in getting a better sense of the possibility of deeper US military involvement that could help protect the Chinese oil infrastructure in Iraq."
China, which is often accused of hacking the US and often accuses the US of hacking it, denounced the accusations at a press conference attended by news agency Reuters.
"Some US internet security firms ignore the US threat to the internet and constantly seize upon the so-called China internet threat," said a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman. "The evidence they produce is fundamentally untrustworthy and unworthy of comment." µ