China using hackers to monitor media coverage of its premier ahead of G20 summit

China using hackers to monitor media coverage of Premier Xi ahead of G20 summit

Chinese hackers have managed to breach the systems of several Australian media houses. This comes just ahead of the G20 summit when the leaders of the top 20 nations of the world will convene in Brisbane.  This breach is suspected to be backed by the state actors based in China. Techworm noticed some serious activity over the last couple of weeks specifically targeting Australian media organisations and and all that points towards alleged Chinese involvement in G20. This was confirmed by Dmitri Alperovitch, co-founder of US computer security company CrowdStrike, on the ABC’s 7.30 program. CrowdStrike has named the group “Deep Panda”.

An attempt to gauge public opinion

This group is suspected to be the same one that hacked into American government systems during the period when the crisis Iraq had come to a serious boil and the world opinion was strongly biased towards pro US action against the IS terrorists. This group seems to be carrying out hacking activities as per the political interests of its nation’s government. Mr Alperovitch said he could not name the media organisations targeted because of confidentiality reasons. “[They’re looking for] questions they can expect from Australian reporters, what type of coverage, positive or negative, they can expect to see,” Mr Alperovitch said.

One of many

Mr Alperovitch says he has identified another hacker group that carries out hacks timed with mainland Chinese state interests, which,  is named Vixen panda. “Out of all the groups that we track from China… Vixen Panda is the one with the most focus on Australia,” he said. On the basis of the research, he concludes that this group is allegedly tied directly to the People’s Liberation Army of China.

The Third Department, or 3PLA which is allegedly Chinese equivalent of  US National Security Agency (NSA) or the Australian Signals Directorate is supposed to have authorised the hacks. “You have a unit of the Chinese military conducting espionage against Australian Government… and the information that they’re stealing is being passed on through the military chain to the leadership of the Chinese government,” he said.

This news makes China the second G20 country after Russia to allegedly sponsor the hackings

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