Chinese Military Tied to Prolific Hacking Group Targeting U.S. Aerospace IndustryPosted: June 9, 2014
In operation since 2007, “Putter Panda” is latest group to be implicated by researchers
For Ars Technica, Dan Goodin reports: Investigators said they have identified a secretive hacking group that has spent years systematically targeting US partners in the space and satellite industry, most likely on behalf of the Chinese military.
“Putter 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.”
— Crowdstrike researchers
The group typically gains a foothold in sensitive networks by attaching booby-trapped documents to e-mails, according to a 62-page report published Monday by Crowdstrike, a firm that conducts forensic investigations on behalf of customers who have suffered security breaches. When employees click on the documents, the attackers are able to gain control over their PCs. The attackers then use the PCs to take control of servers housing blueprints, customer lists, or other sensitive data. The group, dubbed as Putter Panda, is connected to Unit 61486 of the People Liberation Army’s (PLA’s) Third General Staff Department, according to the report.
“Putter 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,” Crowdstrike researchers wrote. “The PLA ’s GSD Third Department is generally acknowledged to be China’s premier Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) collection and analysis agency, and the 12th Bureau Unit 61486, headquartered in Shanghai, supports China’s space surveillance network.”
The report is the latest to charge the Chinese military with supporting a comprehensive espionage campaign targeting key US intelligence. Last year, Crowdstrike competitor Mandiant documented the activities of Unit 61398, a PLA-sponsored hacking group that had siphoned terabytes of sensitive data from 141 organizations in the previous seven years. Last month the US Justice Departmentformally charged five members of Unit 61398 with hacking US companies and stealing their trade secrets. Chinese officials have denied claims it sponsors hacking and has countered with claims the US is behind its own set of hacks….(read more)
- Questions Remain After Chinese Hacking Indictments (bits.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Hacker groups embracing more effective tactics in targeted attacks (networkworld.com)
- China Slams ‘Absurd’ US Hacking Charges (newser.com)
- Chinese military unit behind ‘prolific and sustained hacking’ (guardian.co.uk)
- China military unit ‘behind prolific hacking’ (fedcyber.com)
- China hacking charges: the Chinese army’s Unit 61398 (telegraph.co.uk)
- A new brand of cyber security: hacking the hackers (powersthatbeat.wordpress.com)