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Supporters of GDP seen on a vehicle. Photo: Enric Catala Contreras/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Researchers at FireEye found evidence that a Chinese hacker group known as TEMP.Periscope spied on both sides of the Cambodian election, according to a new report.

What they're saying: Benjamin Read, FireEye senior manager for cyber espionage analysis said in a statement: "China is heavily surveilling all parts of the upcoming Cambodian elections. We have not seen any evidence of activity beyond intelligence collection, but Cambodia is a key ally, so any change in ruling party would be of interest to China."

The details: TEMP.Periscope was previously only known for espionage on maritime targets. The election targets show a new interest in geopolitics.

  • The attack leveraged Airbreak, Homefry, Murkytop, HTran, and Scanbox malware already attributed to the group, as well as two new families of malware: a backdoor FireEye dubbed Eviltech and a credential harvesting program it dubbed Dadbod.
  • Airbreak malware, which is used to install other malware programs, was affixed to lure documents related to Cambodian politics.

Targets of the attack include:

    • The National Election Commission, Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Cambodian Senate, Ministry of Economics and Finance.
    • A Member of Parliament representing the ruling Cambodia National Rescue Party.
    • Multiple human rights advocates in opposition to the ruling party.
    • Two Cambodian diplomats serving overseas.
    • Multiple Cambodian media outlets.
    • Monovithya Kem, deputy director-general of public affairs of the Cambodia National Rescue Party.
    • The daughter of imprisoned Cambodian opposition party leader Kem Sokha.

The attack provided new evidence that TEMP.Periscope is a Chinese group from FireEye, which monitored a control server from the attack.

  • While the attackers usually used location-hiding anonymity measures, the one connection that didn't was located in Hainan, China.
  • Computers that connected to the server had Chinese language settings.

Go deeper

45 million Americans under winter storm watches near New England

Computer model projection showing the winds moving around the powerful East Coast storm on Saturday Jan. 29, 2022. Image: https://earth.nullschool.net

Nearly 45 million Americans are under winter weather alerts and warnings from North Carolina to northeastern Maine, as a major winter storm threatens the region.

Why it matters: It is predicted to be the biggest blizzard since 2018 to strike the Northeast with more than 2 feet of snow possible in parts of eastern Massachusetts, according to the National Weather Service.

3 hours ago - World

Australian PM pledges $700M for climate change-threatened Great Barrier reef

A green sea turtle is flourishing among the corals at Lady Elliot island in Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Photo: Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket via Getty Images

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Friday a AU$1 billion ($703 million) investment plan for the Great Barrier Reef.

Why it matters: The nine-year plan for projects including water quality improvement, reef conservation and supporting some 64,000 tourism jobs comes months ahead of this year's federal election. It has been criticized by scientists and environmental groups for failing to tackle climate change.

Judge nixes Gulf of Mexico oil leases in climate-focused ruling

Tug boats prepare to tow the semi-submersible drilling platform Noble Danny Adkins through the Port Aransas Channel into the Gulf of Mexico on December 12, 2020 in Port Aransas, Texas. Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

A federal judge on Thursday canceled the Biden administration's late 2021 sale of new oil-and-gas drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico.

Why it matters: The ruling that the greenhouse gas emissions analysis by the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) was insufficient is a win for green groups that challenged the decision, as they seek to curb fossil fuel production.