CrowdStrike: China’s ‘Deep Panda’ hackers have switched targets to US experts on Iraq

CrowdStrike: China’s ‘Deep Panda’ hackers have switched targets to US experts on

Security researchers at Irvine, California-based security firm CrowdStrike said on Monday that the sophisticated Chinese hacker group called `Deep Panda' has apparently switched its targets to US experts on Iraq.

Hinting at an evident change on Deep Panda hacking group's snooping habits, the security researchers said that thus far the hackers had been stealing information from US policy experts on nearby Southeast Asia. However, last month, they suddenly changed targets to focus - at least temporarily - on the Middle East, particularly on Iraq.

With China's Deep Panda hacking crew considered one of the world's best for its skilled insertion of malware into the data streams of adversaries, the researchers said that the hackers switched from exploiting one area of expertise to another evidently due to the march of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) towards Baghdad, as well as the disintegration of Iraq's security forces in the country's north and west areas.

According to the CrowdStrike researchers, the shift in Deep Panda's targets took place on June 18 --- the day on which ISIS initiated an attack on the strategically important oil refinery at Baiji, 155 miles north of Baghdad.

About the shift, CrowdStrike co-founder and CTO Dmitri Alperovitch said: "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."

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