A range of spearphishing attacks sent allegedly from China against Tibetan organisations have been detected.
AlienVault researchers who discovered the attacks said Tibetan activist organisations including the Central Tibet Administration and International Campaign for Tibet were targeted.
The messages carried information on the Tibetan religious festival Kalachakra Initiation, and included a malicious PDF attachment that exploited a patched stack overflow Microsoft vulnerability.
It executed the Gh0st remote access Trojan which enabled a range of functions from data exfiltration to activating a target computer's microphone.
AlienVault head of labs Jaime Blasco said the attack used command-and-control servers to grant remote control of infected machines and change the structure and purpose of the malware program.
That allowed attackers to remotely adapt the infection in response to changing circumstances, such as updates to anti-virus software. VirusTotal found that these obfuscation steps meant the infection was detected by just two anti-virus vendors at the time of the attacks.
The attacks likely originated from the same group of Chinese hackers that launched the Nitro attacks against chemical and defence companies late last year, according to researchers. They said the tool appeared to be the same variant used in the Nitro attacks.
The digital certificate used to sign the tool was revoked by VeriSign in December last year.
AlienVault previously detected Chinese attacks against US government agencies, including the US Department of Defense which used a new strain of the Sykipot malware to compromise smartcards.