Tag: cyber attack

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China in breach of cyber-security pact
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China’s main security agency linked to cyber intellectual property theft
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US, Russia and China don’t pledge to fight cybercrime
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Cyber-attackers could exploit security flaw found in the embedded video function of Microsoft Word
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Ransomware, get your ransomware here, and you too can share in the profits!
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Step right up and get your malware – no skill required, prices start at $20!
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Tesco Bank fined £16.4 million for failing to protect account holders against an avoidable cyber-attack in 2016
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Cyber-attack on Bristol Airport – Ransomware leaving travellers in the dark about their flights!
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North Korean cyberattacks increase ahead of summit
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Study reveals massive cost of cybercrime for Asia Pacific businesses

China in breach of cyber-security pact

By Cameron Abbott and Wendy Mansell

It has been a fairly turbulent week in the cyber-espionage space following accusations that China’s Ministry of Security Services is behind the surge of intellectual property theft from Australian companies.

The news that the persistent attacks on Australian IP are perhaps a State sponsored campaign by the Chinese government is concerning as it suggests that China are in breach of several international and bilateral agreements.

In 2015, an agreement was made between Chinese President Xi Jinping and former President Obama, that the U.S and China would not steal intellectual property from one another for commercial gain. This was furthered at the November 2015, G20 Summit, where the cyber-theft of IP was accepted as the norm.

Following on from this in September 2017, former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Chinese Premier Li Kequiang promised that neither country would engage in cyber-theft of intellectual property and commercial secrets.

Reports of cyber-theft declined immediately after these agreements, however in recent months they have ramped up again.

A U.S Trade Representative report released this week confirms that despite any international agreements, China has continued engaging in cyber-espionage and the theft of intellectual property. Further the report states that not only is China likely to be in breach of these agreements, but the attacks have “increased in frequency and sophistication”.

Notably in July of this year, China was linked to the cyber-breach of Australian National University. This attack was particularly disturbing given that ANU is a leading university involved in key areas of Australian technological, scientific, defence and commercial research.  It is fascinating that cyber attacks and theft are a “norm” that is accepted within our overall international relationships.  Physical acts of a similar nature would not be so easily accepted.

China’s main security agency linked to cyber intellectual property theft

By Cameron Abbott and Wendy Mansell

In April 2017, PWC, in collaboration with BAE Systems’ published a report on “Operation Cloud Hopper”, which exposed a cyber espionage campaign being conducted by a China-based threat actor. The report suggests that Operation Cloud Hopper is almost certainly the same threat actor known as “APT10”, a Chinese group thought to be behind cyber-attacks against many countries including Japan, Canada and America.

Recently it has been reported that there are links between China’s Ministry of State Security (MSS) and Operation Cloud Hopper. These allegations are from U.S based firm CrowdStrike who have recognised ties between Operation Cloud Hopper and the MSS Tianjin Bureau.

There is no confirmation that the MSS is behind the Cloud Hopper attacks, however Dr Adrian Nish, Head of Threat of Intelligence at BAE Systems said that there is “no reason to doubt” the claims.

The term “Cloud Hopper” describes a technique where cyber espionage groups “hop” from cloud storage services and infiltrate Australian IT systems. Operation Cloud Hopper is responsible for the theft of intellectual property from a number of Australian companies, primarily focused on mining, engineering and professional services firms.

In a week full of news about China activities in the region, the suggestion of state sponsored hacking thefts is a salient warning to companies that their core intellectual property assets are at risk if not well secured.

 

US, Russia and China don’t pledge to fight cybercrime

By Cameron Abbott and Wendy Mansell

Fifty countries including Japan, Canada and many EU nations have come together with over 150 tech companies, pledging to fight against cybercrime. United State’s tech giants such as Facebook, Google and Microsoft have also joined the party.

The United States, Russia and China however have decided not to sign on. Each has no doubt very different reasons for this – the disappointment is mostly directed to the US. However it is a shame that Russia and China did not also feel the weight of the international community pressure to accept these principles.

The effort to combat cybercrime is being led by France, with French President Emmanuel Macron claiming that it is urgent that the internet is better regulated.

The countries and companies involved are fighting against illegal online activity like censorship, cyber interference in elections, hate speech and trade secrets theft.

The pledge has been made in a document titled the “Paris call for trust and security in cyberspace”.

Cyber-attackers could exploit security flaw found in the embedded video function of Microsoft Word

By Cameron Abbott and Colette Légeret

Cymulate, a leading provider of Breach and Attack Simulation solutions and a Gartner 2018 Cool Vendor, announced last week that its Security Research Team had uncovered a security flaw in the Microsoft Office Suite (Office) that may affect Microsoft Word (Word) users.

The Office security flaw identified is a JavaScript code execution within the embedded video component of Word. This has the potential to impact all users of Office 2016 and users of older Office versions. Cymulate noted that no configuration was required to reproduce the issue and no security warning is presented while opening the document with Word.

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Ransomware, get your ransomware here, and you too can share in the profits!

By Cameron Abbott and Colette Légeret

The expansion of the “service industry” into malware-as-as-service (MaaS), is not the only cyber-attack available online, Bleeping Computer found ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS), that not only uses FilesLocker malware and targets Chinese and American victims, it also offers users a sliding commission pay-scale that rises the more ransomware victims infected.

Bleeping Computer was put on the trail of this RaaS by security researcher, Neutral8✗9eR, who saw it being marketed through a Chinese malware forum on TOR.

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Step right up and get your malware – no skill required, prices start at $20!

By Cameron Abbott and Colette Légeret

It seems that the “service industry” has expanded into cyber-crime without us knowing about it as the Fortinet research team recently discovered. They came across malware-as-a-service schemes available on several Dark Web forums, with one designed as an easy-to-use point of entry for beginner Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attackers.

The DDoS kit disguises itself as a legitimate “booter” or “stresser” service and as it is relatively easy to set-up, almost anyone can go into the “DDoS a website for a fee” business. Some of the offerings are incredibly customisable. The research team found one such service that went operational on 17 October 2018 called “Ox-booter” which uses the Bushido botnet for its attacks. Bushido itself is relatively new, having only been identified in September 2018.

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Tesco Bank fined £16.4 million for failing to protect account holders against an avoidable cyber-attack in 2016

By Cameron Abbott and Colette Légeret

The UK’s banking watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), has fined Tesco Bank, the banking arm of UK supermarket chain Tesco, £16.4 million (approximately AU$29.5 million) for failing to exercise due skill, care and diligence in protecting its personal current account holders against a cyber-attack that occurred in 2016.

This cyber-attack affected thousands of account holders and netted the cyber-criminals £2.26 million (approximately AU$4.07 million) in 48 hours. It was described, at the time, as an unprecedented assault against a UK regulated bank.

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Cyber-attack on Bristol Airport – Ransomware leaving travellers in the dark about their flights!

By Cameron Abbott and Colette Légeret

In response to a cyber-attack on the administrative systems of Bristol airport, believed to be ransomware, the airport took a number of applications down as a precautionary measure, including the application that provides flight data for flight information screens.

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North Korean cyberattacks increase ahead of summit

By Cameron Abbott and Sarah Goegan

North Korean cyberattack activity appears to have ramped up ahead of the highly anticipated US-North Korea summit, which is expected to take place on 12 June 2018.

North Korean hackers known as Group 123 have been identified as the party responsible for new malware activity targeting users in South Korea.

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Study reveals massive cost of cybercrime for Asia Pacific businesses

By Cameron Abbott and Sarah Goegan

We all know that cybersecurity incidents can cost your organisation a lot of money, but exactly how much? A report by Frost and Sullivan has found that losses from cyberattacks in the Asia Pacific region (APAC) could reach a staggering US$1.75 trillion, nearly 7 per cent of the region’s gross domestic product in 2017. As covered in our blog last week, the cost of cyber scams alone in Australia totalled $340 million AUD last year.

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