TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A group of Chinese hackers has succeeded in “pillaging” Taiwan’s semiconductor sector, stealing chip designs and source code, according to a report published by Wired Magazine Thursday (Aug. 7).
While Taiwanese cybersecurity company CyCraft already published information about the hacking campaign in April, it only now established a link between the group and the Chinese authorities.
The CyCraft researchers described the operation as a “state-based attack” aimed at manipulating “Taiwan’s standing and power” and targeting the country’s entire semiconductor sector.
Seven unnamed chip companies, several of them headquartered at the Hsinchu Industrial Park, were targeted over the past two years by a group labeled “Chimera.” CyCraft found new evidence loosely linking them to a better-known China-sponsored hacking outfit known as “Winnti,” Wired reported.
During its investigation, the Taiwanese company succeeded in hacking the hackers, finding a list of standard operating procedures for intrusions written in the simplified Chinese characters used in China. “Chimera” also seemed to be following typically Chinese working hours and official holidays.
CyCraft said it was unable to tell what the group was doing with all the technological information it had stolen from Taiwan, though its aim could just be to pass on the data to Chinese competitors. One of their intentions could be to seek vulnerabilities in new products, making them compromised even before they are made available to the public, researchers said.