An international squad of hackers for hire are reportedly carried out 2011 spying attack on Japan's parliament members in addition to multiple breaches at government agencies and strategic firms in Japan and South Korea, according to security researchers.
Researchers at security firm, Kaspersky Lab, found a squad of cyber-mercenaries for hire, who carry out 'surgical hit and run operations.'
Dubbed 'Icefog', which is a small advanced persistent threat (APT) group targeting South Korea and Japan, the campaign mainly started with emails personalised to a specific person at a victim firm.
Kaspersky Lab Global Research & Analysis Team director Costin Raiu said that for the past few years, there have been a number of APTs hitting pretty much all types of victims and sectors.
"In most cases, attackers maintain a foothold in corporate and governmental networks for years, smuggling out terabytes of sensitive information," Raiu said.
"The 'hit and run' nature of the Icefog attacks demonstrate a new emerging trend: smaller hit-and-run gangs that go after information with surgical precision.
"The attack usually lasts for a few days or weeks and after obtaining what they were looking for, the attackers clean up and leave.
"In the future, we predict the number of small, focused 'APT-to-hire' groups to grow, specialising in hit-and-run operations; a kind of 'cyber mercenary' team for the modern world."
As part of their programme, researchers have scooped 13 of the over 70 domains used by the hackers that offered statistics on the global victims.
The research firm also detected other sinkhole connections in Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, the USA, Australia, Canada, the UK, Italy, Germany, Austria, Singapore, Belarus and Malaysia.
Overall, Kaspersky reveals that there were over 4,000 unique infected IPs in addition to several hundred victims.
According to another report from Symantec, a Chinese group of hackers for hire were responsible for six major online attacks.