China dismisses claims of links to hackers targeting Iraq experts

SAN FRANCISCO Wed Jul 9, 2014 5:50am IST

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - China on Tuesday disputed claims by CrowdStrike, a U.S. security firm, that a group of hackers it calls "Deep Panda" is linked to unnamed Chinese government officials, saying the firm was merely seeking publicity.

"Chinese laws prohibit cyber crimes of all forms, and Chinese government has done whatever it can to combat such activities," Geng Shuang, press counselor for China's embassy in Washington, said in response to questions from Reuters.

On Monday, CrowdStrike said a highly sophisticated group of hackers believed to be associated with the Chinese government, who for years targeted U.S experts on Asian geopolitical matters, has suddenly begun breaching computers belonging to experts on Iraq as the rebellion there escalated.

The security firm, which employs a number of former U.S. government officials, added that it had "great confidence" that Deep Panda was affiliated with the Chinese government but declined to elaborate.

In interviews and a blog post, CrowdStrike said the group had long targeted think-tank specialists on Asian affairs but suddenly began extracting documents from the computers of Iraq experts last month, after militant Islamic insurgency gained strength and attacked a refinery.

China has extensive interests in Iraqi oil production.

Geng said, "The blog post seems like an ad for CrowdStrike, which has been alarming people on the threat in cyber space for quite some time. I surmise it has been helpful to their business."

CrowdStrike co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch said Chinese officials had apparently decided not to confirm or deny any allegations, including those in a recent unprecedented Justice Department indictment.

"For China, it's no longer the art of war, it's the art of denial. It's clear by now that there's no level of proof that is sufficient," he said.

(Reporting by Joseph Menn; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Richard Chang)

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