Feeds

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

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

The Chinese operatives behind two major advanced persistent threat (APT) groups have fully resumed their activities despite being exposed publically last year, in a sign that diplomatic efforts by the US aren’t working, according to Mandiant.

The FireEye-owned company said in its M-Trends report that over the past year it has been monitoring the APT1 group first revealed in its February 2013 study as well as APT12 – another China-based group the New York Times claimed in January 2013 had compromised its networks in a lengthy campaign.

Despite Mandiant’s claims last year that compelling evidence connected APT1 to Unit 61398 of the People’s Liberation Army, Beijing has always strenuously denied any links to the groups.

However, the security vendor had the following to say:

... Mandiant’s continued observations of APT1 and APT12 activity, measured by command and control (C2) sessions, revealed a different response behind the scenes, suggesting a possible acknowledgement that both groups had been exposed.

Based on comparisons between APT1 and APT12 activity during 2013 and the previous three years, Mandiant believes that these threat groups responded to their public exposure in two ways. First, both groups delayed their return to normal operations following the end of the Chinese New Year holidays in February. Second, both groups quickly shifted their operational infrastructure to continue their activities.

APT12 waited around 150 days to resume “pre-disclosure levels” of activity, while APT1 delayed operations for around 160 days, Mandiant said.

What’s more, both appeared to change their “operational architecture” including switching the IP addresses exposed in the Mandiant report, “in an attempt to obscure their future data theft operations”.

While this isn’t in itself surprising behaviour, it paints a bleak picture for the Obama administration, which has repeatedly warned China that its continued cyber incursions may seriously affect the countries’ “economic relationship”.

Mandiant concluded:

APT1 and APT12’s reactions to their public exposure suggest that the PRC, despite publicly denying engaging in state-sponsored data theft, is unwilling to permanently cease its use of intrusive cyber operations.

Unfortunately for the US, the Edward Snowden NSA revelations have now given China the perfect ammo if Washington persists in trying to take the moral high ground in discussions on limiting online espionage activities. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
One HUNDRED FAMOUS LADIES exposed NUDE online
Celebrity women victimised as Apple iCloud accounts reportedly popped
Rubbish WPS config sees WiFi router keys popped in seconds
Another day, another way in to your home router
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
NZ Justice Minister scalped as hacker leaks emails
Grab your popcorn: Subterfuge and slur disrupts election run up
HP: NORKS' cyber spying efforts actually a credible cyberthreat
'Sophisticated' spies, DIY tech and a TROLL ARMY – report
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Attack flogged through shiny-clicky social media buttons
66,000 users popped by malicious Flash fudging add-on
New Snowden leak: How NSA shared 850-billion-plus metadata records
'Federated search' spaffed info all over Five Eyes chums
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
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.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
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?