Beijing: The attacks on Taiwanese organisations have been intensified by a suspected China-backed hacking outfit, as part of Beijing's intelligence-gathering activities on the self-governing island, Al Jazeera reported, citing a cybersecurity firm.

Around two dozen organisations were compromised by the hacking group, RedJuliett, between November 2023 and April of this year, likely in support of intelligence collection on Taiwan's diplomatic relations and technological development, Recorded Future said in a report released on Monday.

RedJuliett exploited vulnerabilities in internet-facing appliances, such as firewalls and virtual private networks (VPNs), to compromise its targets, which included tech firms, government agencies and universities, the US-based cybersecurity firm said.

RedJuliett also conducted "network reconnaissance or attempted exploitation" against more than 70 Taiwanese organisations, including multiple de facto embassies, according to the firm.

"Within Taiwan, we observed RedJuliett heavily target the technology industry, including organisations in critical technology fields. RedJuliett conducted vulnerability scanning or attempted exploitation against a semiconductor company and two Taiwanese aerospace companies that have contracts with the Taiwanese military," Recorded Future said in its report.

"The group also targeted eight electronics manufacturers, two universities focused on technology, an industrial embedded systems company, a technology-focused research and development institute, and seven computing industry associations," it added.

While nearly two-thirds of the targets were in Taiwan, the group also compromised organisations elsewhere, including religious organisations in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and South Korea and a university in Djibouti.

Recorded Future further said it expects the Chinese state-sponsored hackers to continue targeting Taiwan for intelligence-gathering activities, Al Jazeera reported.

"We also anticipate that Chinese state-sponsored groups will continue to focus on conducting reconnaissance against and exploiting public-facing devices, as this has proved a successful tactic in scaling initial access against a wide range of global targets," the cybersecurity firm said.

Beijing has previously denied engaging in cyber-espionage, instead casting itself as a regular victim of cyberattacks.

China claims democratically ruled Taiwan as part of its territory.

Relations between Beijing and Taipei have deteriorated as Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party, which returned to power for a third straight term under new leader Lai Ching-te, has sought to boost the island's profile on the international stage.

Earlier on Monday, Taiwanese President William Lai Ching-te hit out at Beijing after it issued legal guidelines threatening the death penalty for those who advocate Taiwanese independence.

"I want to stress, democracy is not a crime; it's autocracy that is the real evil," Lai told reporters.

Lai, whom Beijing has branded a "separatist", has said there is no need to formally declare independence for Taiwan because it is already an independent sovereign state, Al Jazeera reported.

This report is auto-generated from a syndicated feed