Feeds

EU admits deep impact cyberattack in run-up to key summit

Internal docs suggest longer-term problem

SANS - Survey on application security programs

The EU has admitted to having been hit by a deep, penetrating cyber-attack.

The admission comes days before an EU summit on economic strategies and the conflict in Libya are due to top the agenda.

Official details on the attack are scant. Eurocrats would only say that the Commission and External Action Service had been hit by an attack along the same lines as a recent assault on France's finance ministry in December, which, in turn, came weeks before a G20 summit in Paris. Around 150 of the French ministry's 170,000 computers were reportedly affected by that assault, which involved targeted email and malware.

The EU attack involves Microsoft Exchange servers and other systems.

"The Commission and External Advisory Service are subject to a serious cyber attack," Antony Gravili, spokesman for the security and information technology commissioner, told BBC News.

"We are already taking urgent measures to tackle this. An inquiry's been launched. This isn't unusual as the commission is frequently targeted."

In response to the assault, the EU has suspended external access to email and the institutions' intranet. The passwords of EU staff have been reset in wake of the assault.

El Reg has come into possession of internal emails suggesting that although the attack was detected last week, systems might have been compromised much longer than this, perhaps for months. An apparently extensive investigative and damage assessment effort is looking at the possibility that infected images had been installed.

Speculation, as with the Paris G20 cyber-attack, points towards state-sponsored Chinese hackers, even though there's no firm evidence to either support or disprove this theory.

Rik Ferguson of net security firm Trend Micro said that even though the issue only hit mainstream news reports recently, cyber-espionage attacks have undoubtedly been going on for years.

"International cyber-espionage and criminal theft of information for commercial advantage has been going on for several years now but only really caught the public imagination with the furore surrounding the Aurora attacks in 2009/2010," Ferguson writes. "Since that time, the mood for public disclosure of these attacks has rapidly changed and may contribute somewhat to the impression that they are increasing in frequency." ®

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
Parent gabfest Mumsnet hit by SSL bug: My heart bleeds, grins hacker
Natter-board tells middle-class Britain to purée its passwords
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Web data BLEEDOUT: Users to feel the pain as Heartbleed bug revealed
Vendors and ISPs have work to do updating firmware - if it's possible to fix this
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
Mounties always get their man: Heartbleed 'hacker', 19, CUFFED
Canadian teen accused of raiding tax computers using OpenSSL bug
Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches
German service pays tribute to Lavabit
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.