China dismisses claims of links to hackers targeting US Iraq experts

SAN FRANCISCO, July 8 Tue Jul 8, 2014 5:19pm EDT

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SAN FRANCISCO, July 8 (Reuters) - China on Tuesday disputed claims by a U.S. security firm that linked years of hacking by a secretive local group it calls "Deep Panda" to unnamed government officials of that country, 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 that 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, whose staff includes 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 did not immediately respond to a request for comment. (Reporting by Joseph Menn; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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