In July 2015, Chinese state-affiliated hackers performed a cyberattack against the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague. The Philippines had asked the court to rule on their territorial dispute in the South China Sea and on the validity of Chinese territorial claims in the region. The hackers implanted a malicious Adobe Flash file on the PCA’s website, using it as a springboard from which to infect other machines. The malware allowed the hackers to track the website visitors’ computers and access their confidential documents. The Diplomat reports that Chinese cyber units could have used their access to the computers of journalists, diplomats, lawyers, and others to gather information on the arguments they intended to use against China in the South China Sea arbitration. The attackers’ methodology was similar to that of the Naikon Chinese state-affiliated hacker group, also known as APT unit 78020, who had previously targeted several Southeast Asian countries.
Chinese state-affiliated hackers attack Permanent Court of Arbitration