Updated 2:12 PM EST, Wed, Jan 29, 2020

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Elite Chinese Cyberespionage Group Axiom Exposed

Chinese Hacker Group Axiom

(Photo : Reuters /Pichi Chuang) A U.S.-based cybersecurity research organization identified a China-backed elite group of hackers in a report released Tuesday, October 28, 2014.

A group of cyber security researchers has released Tuesday a report identifying a government-sponsored Chinese hacker group that targets U.S. and European government agencies and appears to operate on more sophisticated technologies than any identified so far. 

According to the report, the coalition of researchers which include technology giants like Microsoft, Cisco, Bit9, ThreatConnect and other cybersecurity firms, the hacker group has been gathering intelligence that is beneficial to China's domestic and foreign policies and trade.

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The Washington Post reported that Axiom, as it has been identified by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) last month, uses an approach that crosses industrial cyberespionage and intelligence and counterintelligence monitoring of foreign governments as well as citizens considered dissidents by the Chinese government.

Peter LaMontagne, who heads the cybersecurity firm Novetta Solutions that leads the U.S.-based research coalition, told the Post that the hackers appear to be state-sponsored to monitor Chinese dissidents, pro-democracy movements as well as steal commercial secrets from international sources.

Axiom has been around for the last six years. In recent weeks, it has been infiltrating at least 43,000 computers belonging to government and law enforcement agencies, personnel management agencies, law firms, human rights groups, telecommunications companies and even journalists.

In at least one case, a Chinese-language computer in the U.S. was targeted, although the organization declined to identify who owns the computer.

The group has also speculated that Axiom is the group behind the 2010 cyberattack that compromised Google's source code and retrieved email information of suspected Chinese dissidents.

LaMontagne said the group appears to operate on the most advanced cyberespionage tactics seen so far out of China.

Chinese Embassy spokesman Geng Shuang denied the allegations, saying Chinese laws prohibit cybercrime.

He pointed out that based on the revelations of Edward Snowden, a National Security Agency contractor, last year, China was, in fact, the victim of U.S.'s wide-ranging snooping business. 

The news of the high-profile Chinese hacker group comes just days ahead of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's China trip and two weeks before President Barack Obama's talks with senior-level officials in Beijing concerning, among other things, cybersecurity.   

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