FireEye, a California-based cyber security company, said government-backed Chinese hackers have carried out a decade-long cyber espionage campaign against Southeast Asian countries and India since 2005, collecting political and military intelligence from these countries’ government networks, reports Mingjing News, a New York-based website allegedly sourced by political insiders, citing the Wall Street Journal.

The company’s recently published report said the hackers sent e-mails to their recipients encrypted with malware. They also tricked administrators into downloading malware on their computers. The malware infected the administrators’ USB sticks and eventually affected their server networks once the USBs were unwittingly plugged into other computers.

The cyber espionage campaign has been such a sustained and planned effort that FireEye concluded it has most likely been backed by Beijing. It aims to gather intelligence relating to political and military issues such as those relating to the South China Sea, where China has territorial disputes with Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, Taiwan and Philippines.

Beijing consistently dismisses accusations that it is involved in cyber espionage and said the United States is the one to blame.

Attacks where FireEye named such Chinese hackers as culprits include one in 2011 against the ten ASEAN member countries, hinting that they therefore caused a disagreement during a summit of ASEAN foreign ministers in 2012. The company also said the group was responsible for an e-mail sent to 50 journalists containing malware disguised as a transcript of a China Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ press briefing the same year. In the summer of 2013, the hackers also are said to have posed as an unnamed Southeast Asian government, sending e-mails to 30 individuals in the defense and financial sectors which asked recipients their opinions on a “significant political transitions.” FireEye said aerospace, defense and telecommunication companies in India were also targeted. –