Reuters reports that foreign journalists in Beijing were recently targeted by a pair of very similar malware attacks.

"The emails - one appearing to come from a Beijing-based foreign correspondent and the other from a Washington-based think tank - both contained an attachment with the same type of malware, according to independent cyber security expert Greg Walton who reviewed the files. ... Both of the emails referred to the upcoming handover of power in the top ranks of the ruling Communist Party," write Reuters' Lucy Hornby and Michael Martina. "The attachment, if opened, would have installed malware that sent encrypted information from the user's computer to an external server."

"A government spokesman warned against jumping to conclusions about who was responsible," notes E Hacking News' Sabari Selvan. "'China manages the Internet according to law and has engaged in cooperation with the international community to promote Internet security. Internet security is a complicated issue,' Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said."

"The chairman of technology consultancy BDA in Bejing, Duncan Clark, says it is difficult to prove who is behind hacking attacks related to China," ABC Radio Australia reports. "'The Chinese government often gives blanket denials that this happens, and in some cases the left arm may not know what the right arm is doing,' he said."

"Although the exact timing has yet to be revealed, it is widely expected that the Communist Party top brass will step aside this autumn and make way for a new intake of leaders," writes The Register's Phil Muncaster. "Such a transition happens every ten years. Given the heightened political sensitivity in China at this time it’s not unusual to see spikes in malware targeted at specific groups like journalists and Party critics, coupled with a more vigorous approach to online censorship."