Chinese Hackers Tried to Steal Russian Defense Data, Report Says

Under China’s dictatorial leader, Xi Jinping, Beijing has improved its approach to cyber espionage, transforming it into a more sophisticated actor over the past decade. China’s premier intelligence agency has borrowed a page from Russia, pulling it out of the country’s growing pool of tech workers, recruiting it beyond its ranks. The strategy has made its attacks more sporadic and unpredictable, but analysts say it has also helped strengthen the country’s efforts, enabling spies to carry out covert attacks targeting intellectual property as well as political and military intelligence around the world.

Mr. With ambitions to become a global leader in high-tech fields such as robotics, medical equipment and aviation, Xi has made it a priority to improve China’s scientific and technological capabilities in the coming years. The checkpoint report said the campaign, which targeted Russian defense research institutes, “could serve as further evidence of technological superiority and the use of espionage in systematic and long-term efforts to achieve Chinese strategic objectives in military power.”

More recently, China-based hackers, like their counterparts elsewhere, have taken advantage of the war in Ukraine to infiltrate the computer systems of organizations across Europe. Hackers have raised concerns about the attack, enticing their victims to download documents that falsely claim to have information about the war or pose as aid agencies raising money for charity.

Security analysts say many of the attacks emanating from China appear to be focused on gathering information and intellectual property rather than creating chaos or disruption that could affect the conflict in favor of Ukraine or Russia.

In late March, Chinese hackers began stalking Ukrainian institutions, according to security researchers and an announcement by Ukraine’s Cyber ​​Security Agency. The hacking team, known as Scarab, sent a document to Ukrainian organizations instructing them on how to film evidence of Russian war crimes but also contains malware that could retrieve information from an infected computer system, said researchers from security firm Sentinellon.

Also in March, another hacking team linked to China, called Mustang Panda by security researchers, created documents that allegedly contained European Union reports on the situation on the borders of Ukraine and Belarus, and emailed them to potential targets in Europe. But the documents contained malware, and victims trapped in the opening allowed hackers to inadvertently infiltrate their networks, Google and security firm Cisco Telus said.

The Mustang Panda hacking group had previously attacked organizations in India, Taiwan and Myanmar, but when the war broke out it turned its attention to the European Union and Russia. In March, hackers also chased agencies in Russia, emailing them a document that appears to contain information about the placement of border guards in Russia, Cisco Talos researchers said.

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