For state-backed cyber spies such as a Chinese military unit implicated by a U.S. security firm in a computer crime wave, hacking foreign companies can produce high-value secrets ranging from details on oil fields to advanced manufacturing technology.
This week's report by Mandiant Inc. adds to mounting suspicion that Chinese military experts are helping state industry by stealing secrets from Western companies possibly worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The Chinese military has denied involvement in the attacks.
British security expert Graham Cluley says the world is in a "new era of cybercrime."
He says, "We've moved from kids in their bedroom and financially motivated crime to state-sponsored cybercrime."
Security experts say cyber spies with skills and resources that suggest they work for governments aim at higher-value but better-guarded information.