A new federal analysis has revealed that Chinese hackers used spear phishing techniques to place malware on the National Research Council's network in an attempt to steal sensitive data.

A case study by the Canadian Cyber Incident Response Centre sheds light on the tactics leveraged by hackers, which are typically used in state-sponsored cyber attacks, according to a report by the Canadian Press.

Email with malicious links were sent to specific employees at the research council – which carries out advanced studies on aerospace, health, mining and physics fields – and those duped into clicking on the links were sent to sites of interest to those at the organization.

In what's commonly referred to as a watering hole attack, upon visiting the site, the victims became infected with malware, which ultimately allowed attackers to compromise the Council's network.