For years, American aerospace industry has allegedly been infiltrated by a shadowy group of hackers believed to be affiliated with Chinese military. US space industryâ€™s trading partners have also not been spared by this group, revealed a US-based cyber security company CrowdStrike.
CrowdStrike officials have declared Peopleâ€™s Liberation Army 12 bureauâ€™s unit 61486 based in Shanghai responsible for attacking American and numerous other western networks. These cyber-assaults date back to as far as 2007. CrowdStrike states that this group has managed to target communication, space, and aerospace sectors through â€œpopular productivity applications such as Adobe Reader and Microsoft Office to deploy custom malware through targeted email attacks,â€ reported Reuters.
The list of accusations has been outlined in a 62 page report published by CrowdStrike on Monday which involves blames like phishing emails and using Trojan horse document. This group, informally known as Putter Panda, conducts forensic investigations for clients enduring offensive security violations. For instance, whenever a target clicks on a specific document or downloads it, they can easily take over their entire computer. This power is then used by the hackers for stealing housing blueprints, serves, list of clients and other highly sensitive data, reported Ars Technica.
Researchers have acknowledged that â€œPutter Panda is a determined adversary group, conducting intelligence-gathering operations targeting the Government, Defense, Research, and Technology sectors in the United States, with specific targeting of the US Defense and European satellite and aerospace industries. The PLAâ€™s GSD Third Department is generally acknowledged to be Chinaâ€™s premier Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) collection and analysis agency, and the 12th Bureau Unit 61486, headquartered in Shanghai, supports Chinaâ€™s space surveillance network.â€
CrowdStrike published this report to show how deep-rooted this problem is. The report arrived just three weeks after the surprise move from US Justice Department of impeaching Peopleâ€™s Liberation Army hacker unitâ€™s five members. They were accused of stealing US trade secrets.
Chinese spokespersons denied the legitimacy of the Departmentâ€™s assertions on the basis that the US National Security agency has already launched such attacks.
Jiang Jun, an official representative for the state Internet Information Office informed pro-government Xinhua News Agency: â€œFor a long time, governments and enterprises of a few countries have gathered sensitive information on a large scale, taking advantage of their monopoly in the market and technological edge. They not only seriously undermine the interests of their clients but also threaten cyber security of other countries.â€
Junâ€™s response provoked Dmitri Alperovitch, co-founder CrowdStrike who also authorized disclosure of this report on Monday, to access US intelligence and Justice Department officials for consultation.
â€œAfter the Chinese response, where they basically said this is all fabricated, we said why donâ€™t we unleash something thatâ€™s undeniable,â€ Alperovitch informed Reuters.
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