A hacker group believed to have been targeting US, European and Japanese companies in the satellite and aerospace industries has been identified by security company CrowdStrike. The hackers, known as "Putter Panda" are said to have been in operation since around 2007 and to have a strong connection to the Chinese military.

So strong in fact, that the group is also known as Unit 61486, the 12th Bureau of the People's Liberation Army's (PLA) 3rd General Staff Department and has been responsible for covert, cyber-intelligence gathering operations on US government officials, according to CrowdStrike. The report claims the group has been using dummy email accounts to lure in government officials with fake PDF conference invitations, as well as other promotional spam like emails in order to install custom malware.

This marks the second Chinese Army group accused of cyber espionage against the United States in just over a month. In May the US pressed criminal charges against five Chinese army hackers from Unit 61398 of the PLA. CrowdStrike believes it has definitive evidence linking attacks on its clients in the satellite and aerospace industries to Unit 61486.

The report is likely to escalate the already rising tensions between the US and China, which has gone on for quite a while now with both countries passing accusations back and forth. Many reports have surfaced over the past several months regarding Chinese cyber attacks on US companies and government sectors, followed by the Chinese government attributing nearly two thirds of the 144,000 thousand cyber attacks it experienced in 2012 to the US.

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