The emails were believable. An interview request for a member of the opposition. An article sent to a government official. A conference invitation for a journalist. But each one a hacking attempt designed to lure the recipient.
Over the past few months, numerous rights groups, reporters and Cambodia observers have reported seeing a large spike in phishing messages and hacking attempts. Now a report from a leading U.S. cybersecurity firm suggests such cases may be linked to a large scale operation from a Chinese cyber espionage group seeking to monitor the country’s upcoming and contentious July 29 national elections.
In a report released Wednesday, FireEye details how a well-known Chinese hacking group called TEMP.Periscope targeted opposition figures, government departments, rights defenders and media outlets. Among those compromised by the attacks was the Cambodian National Election Commission, Interior Ministry, diplomats and opposition lawmakers. In the past, the group has gone after corporations, academics and defense contractors in the U.S., Europe, Taiwan and Hong Kong. FireEye, which has been studying TEMP.Periscope since 2013, said there can be little doubt they are working on behalf of the Chinese government.