Villeneuve points out that McAfee has been most vocal about how the hackers accessed their victims’ networks, moved between servers and planted hidden software. Damballa, meanwhile, says it has focused on the spyware samples themselves and the so-called “command and control” servers that the software communicated with to receive orders and steal data.

“When these researchers argue about whether the hackers are sophisticated or not sophisticated, they’re looking at different pieces of the puzzle,” says Villeneuve. “The truth is that no one’s providing enough detail to make any kind of complete comparison or analysis possible.”