Chinese hackers eavesdropped on the computers of five European foreign ministries before last September's G20 Summit, which was dominated by the Syrian crisis, according to research by computer security firm FireEye.
The hackers infiltrated the ministries' computer networks by sending emails to staff containing tainted files with titles such as "US_military_options_in_Syria," said FireEye, which sells virus fighting technology to companies. When recipients opened these documents, they loaded malicious code onto their personal computers.
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For about a week in late August, California-based FireEye said its researchers were able to monitor the "inner workings" of the main computer server used by the hackers to conduct their reconnaissance and move across compromised systems.
FireEye lost access to the hackers after they moved to another server shortly before the G20 Summit in St. Petersburg, Russia. FireEye said it believes the hackers were preparing to start stealing data just as the researchers lost access.