A Vietnam-based hacking group is learning from China's playbook, using increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks to spy on competitors and help Vietnam catch up to global competitors, according to cybersecurity experts.

In the last two years, the group, which is believed to be tied to the Vietnamese government and known as APT32, has ramped up its cyberespionage, particularly in Southeast Asia, according to the cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike Inc. The hacking group's exploits have included intellectual property theft, the firm said, the same activity for which Chinese hackers are infamous.

The automotive industry has been a key target for APT32, according to multiple experts. For example, APT32 created fake domains for Toyota Motor Corp. and Hyundai Motor Co. in an attempt to infiltrate the automakers' networks, according to a researcher familiar with the matter who requested anonymity discussing companies. In March, Toyota discovered that it was targeted in Vietnam and Thailand and through a subsidiary — Toyota Tokyo Sales Holdings Inc — in Japan, according to spokesman Brian Lyons. A Toyota official, who requested anonymity discussing the hacking group, confirmed that APT32 was responsible.