Feeds

EFF claims Vietnam targeted its staff with spear phishing attack

Is this Chinese soft power in action?

Security for virtualized datacentres

Advocacy group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has warned of an uptick in targeted malware attacks by “state-aligned actors” in Vietnam against foreign activists and journalists.

In a blog post this week the group complained of a new campaign targeting its own staff – the first of its kind.

A suspicious looking email inviting EFF activists to an Oxfam conference in Asia was found to contain malicious links and attachments, with the malware in question detected by just one AV vendor in 47, according to VirusTotal.

The same malware was apparently sent to a Vietnam-based AP reporter, this time in an email purporting to come from Human Rights Watch and containing a link to a white paper.

Although the emails contain dodgy grammar and are fairly easy to spot as fake, they have clearly been crafted to appeal to their specific targets.

EFF didn’t elaborate on the end goal for these specific attacks although it said that the related malware and C&C server “reveals a relationship to earlier campaigns targeting Vietnamese activists”.

Such previous campaigns have involved malware and RATs designed to spy on their targets.

Vietnamese “state-aligned” actors aren’t just targeting foreign hacks and activists now but also homegrown dissidents who’ve since moved abroad.

EFF attributed the attacks to a group known as “Sinh Tử Lệnh”, which has been active since 2009, but which has hitherto mainly focused on homegrown targets.

The group is sometimes claimed to be comprised of Chinese attackers but is “more likely the work of Vietnamese targeting Vietnamese”, EFF added.

The rights group continued:

EFF is greatly disturbed to see targeted malware campaigns hitting so close to home. While it is clear that this group has been targeted members of the Vietnamese diaspora for some time, these campaigns indicate that journalists and US activists are also under attack. And while longtime activists and journalists might expect to be targeted by a state they regularly criticise, it appears that a single blog post is enough to make you a target for Vietnamese spying.

Like China, Vietnam is keen to reap the economic rewards that come from embracing e-commerce, software development and ambitious ICT projects, but the one-party state is also prepared to censor, spy on and imprison anyone using the internet in a way which could challenge its rule.

So far the cyber attacks observed by EFF have been nothing like the same scale or sophistication as those seen in China, but the group is right to be concerned of what it may foreshadow.

Last year the government passed Decree 72 and Decree 174, for example, which introduce strict penalties on the use of social media “against the state”. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
NASTY SSL 3.0 vuln to be revealed soon – sources (Update: It's POODLE)
So nasty no one's even whispering until patch is out
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
Forget passwords, let's use SELFIES, says Obama's cyber tsar
Michael Daniel wants to kill passwords dead
FBI boss: We don't want a backdoor, we want the front door to phones
Claims it's what the Founding Fathers would have wanted – catching killers and pedos
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.