Chinese spies posed as Iranians to breach Israeli networks, cyber firm FireEye claims

Security company FireEye has claimed that Chinese spies pretended to be Iranian hackers for two years to break into Israeli government and telecommunication networks.

According to Cyberscoop, the alleged Chinese intruders used a hacking tool previously associated with Iranian operatives and included some of their malicious code with the Farsi language. The move was part of a broader campaign to secure intelligence from organisations in other Middle Eastern and Central Asian countries.

The publication noted that the findings showed how spies plant digital evidence in an effort to throw off investigators in the world of espionage.

FireEye claimed it did not identify the victims of the hacking and only said that there were ‘multiple, concurrent operations against Israeli government institutions, IT providers and telecommunications firms beginning in January 2019’.

Mandiant FireEye vice president of threat intelligence John Hultquist said the targeting at Israeli organisations and elsewhere has ‘consistent with previous Chinese government activity’. He mentioned the company had not pinpointed which Chinese government entity may have sponsored the espionage.

Chinese Embassy in Washington D.C spokesperson Liu Pengyu said, “The US is the world’s largest source of cyber-attacks and attacks targeting China.

“Given the virtual nature of cyberspace and the fact that there are all kinds of online actors who are difficult to trace, it’s important to have enough evidence when investigating and identifying cyber-related incidents.”

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