Researchers at security management company AlienVault are tracking highly skilled espionage group that is targeting two US manufacturers of solar panels.
The hacker group, thought to be from China, is targeting design documents using complex and well-obfuscated rootkit-like malware.
"It's installing on the kernel level," he said, adding that it was custom built for the attacks and doesn't contain configuration data of the command-and-control server with which it communicates.
"If it's not targeting a wide range of industries, it's much, much more difficult to generate signatures," he said.
By comparison, the Chinese military hacker unit outed by Mandiant in a recent report cast a much wider net and was easier to study after it successfully infiltrated 141 companies representing an assortment of verticals.
The high-growth energy space is one of the most sought-after industries by foreign espionage groups, according to Blasco.
One of the two solar panel makers is aware they've been targeted and compromised, but he declined to name them.
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the total installed capacity of solar energy rose to 1992 megawatts in the third quarter of 2012, a new record.