Cybersecurity firm Symantec took a major swipe at Chinese hackers on Tuesday, when it revealed the details of the group that's behind some of the best-known attacks on the United States. Unlike earlier reports, however, Symantec's report isn't about the Chinese military. These are hackers-for-hire.
Symantec has dubbed the mercenary group "Hidden Lynx" and says it's a "professional organisation" with "a hunger and drive that surpass other well-known groups." The hackers have carried out at least six major attacks since 2011, in addition to the 2009 Operation Aurora attacks that targeted Google, specifically the Gmail accounts of human rights activists. Hidden Lynx is being implicated in another major campaign that targeted hundreds of financial firms, government agencies and defence contractors.
Notably, Symantec did not link Hidden Lynx with any of China's state-sponsored hacking efforts. In the past, a cyberunit from China's People's Liberation Army has been implicated in major attacks like the one on The New York Times earlier this year. This new group operates independently, though, and is arguably better than the best hackers working for the Chinese military, such as the "Comment Crew" who got caught hacking a decoy water plant last month.
Of course, it's entirely possible that the People's Liberation Army or other Chinese government bodies have hired Hidden Lynx to do its dirty work as well. There's certainly plenty of it to go around. [Symantec, Reuters]