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Chinese hacking group homes in on US-based Iraq experts

Deep Panda team switches targets from Asia think-tanks to Mid East as ISIL insurgency intensifies

Chinese hacking group homes in on US-based Iraq experts
Deep Panda is considered more clandestine than most groups associated with China’s People’s Liberation Army and other branches of its government.

An experienced hacking group, thought to be affiliated with the Chinese government switched its attention from US South East Asia experts to those studying Iraq, as the insurgency there intensified, security firm CrowdStrike Inc reported yesterday.

The so-called "Deep Panda" team is considered more clandestine than most groups associated with China's People's Liberation Army and other branches of its government. CrowdStrike claims the group has gone after US-based industrial and commercial targets as well as compromising the computers of Asian affairs specialists.

But after Sunni insurgent group ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) attacked a key oil refinery at Baiji, 155 miles north of Baghdad, Deep Panda shifted its focus.

"The networks [of the think tanks] had been previously compromised, but Deep Panda pivoted to target systems and individuals with ties to the Middle East and Iraq," ComputerWorld quoted Dmitri Alperovitch, co-founder and CTO of CrowdStrike as saying.

Alperovitch attributed the change in focus to the large stake China has in the country. He said Iraq is China's fifth-largest source for crude imports and China is the largest foreign investor in Iraq's oil infrastructure.

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