At least 27 universities spread across the United States, Canada and Southeast Asia have been targeted by Chinese hackers, a report to be published this week claims, as part of a campaign to pilfer research on military-use maritime technology.
The Wall Street Journal first reported the news, citing current and former US officials and cybersecurity experts.
Among the institutions targeted are The University of Hawaii, the University of Washington and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, according to the study carried out by iDefense, a unit of Accenture Security. iDefense says that the cyber campaign is ongoing and began as far back as April of 2017.
Another cybersecurity firm, FireEye, reportedly confirmed that the research is in line with their own findings. Both firms claim to have identified a Chinese hacking group referred to by researchers as Temp.Periscope, Leviathan or Mudcarp.
The report on Tuesday is part of a stream of similar accusations, which include a report from The New York Times last month suggesting that China has stepped up its cyber attacks in response to the Trump administration’s trade war.
According to that account, which was based on intelligence briefings given to the news organization, Chinese cyberespionage waned after the administration of US President Barack Obama reached a deal with China four years ago to halt hacking activity.
Other US cyber experts argue that the intelligence collection is simply driven by China’s technology policy and would have regained steam regardless of other factors.