CrowdStrike says the Deep Panda group is one of the most sophisticated of the 30 it tracks in China

Cyber-security firm simply seeking publicity says China

A cyber-security firm that claims to have uncovered a state-sponsored hacking group is merely seeking publicity according to China.

Crowdstrike said that a highly sophisticated group of hackers it calls "Deep Panda" believed to be associated with the Chinese government, who for years targeted US experts on Asian geopolitical matters, has suddenly begun breaching computers belonging to experts on Iraq as the rebellion there escalated.

But Beijing rubbished the claims, saying the US firm was simply trying to boost its reputation.

"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.

"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."

The security firm, whose staff includes a number of former US government officials, had said on Monday 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.

CrowdStrike co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch said that Iraq is the fifth-largest source of crude for China, while China is the largest foreign investor in Iraq's oil infrastructure, so it would be natural for China to be concerned about the insurrection and potential US responses.

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.

CrowdStrike says the group is one of the most sophisticated of the 30 it tracks in China and that its operations are better hidden than many attributed to military and other government units.

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