Student at Computer Screen

The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa was targeted by Chinese hackers seeking to steal maritime technology research that was used for the military.

Also targeted were the University of Washington, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and institutions from Canada and Southeast Asia, according to iDefense, a cybersecurity intelligence unit of Accenture Security.

The cyber campaign by Beijing has been dated back to approximately April 2017 and is still ongoing.

According to the Wall Street Journal, iDefense identified universities being targeted by Chinese hackers by noting that their networks were connecting with servers in China. The servers were controlled by a Chinese hacking group under various names, including Temp, Periscope, Leviathan and Mudcarp.

Spear phishing emails that looked like legitimate messages between one university and another but were actually loaded with malicious software appear to have been sent out.

Nonpublic files belonging to UH’s Applied Research Laboratory were laced with malware and sent to other targets, suggesting a successful intrusion in Hawai'i, according to iDefense. 

UH spokesman Dan Meisenzahl said that the university is unable to make further comment on the article, but is currently cooperating with federal law enforcement agencies on the matter

“UH works continuously to protect our complex networks and systems against these dynamic and sophisticated attacks and also works to educate our community members to be able to recognize and ignore the barrage of increasingly sophisticated spear phishing attempts,” Meisenzahl said.