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

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes
Free anti-virus software, expires, stops updating and p0wns the world
Attack reveals 81 percent of Tor users but admins call for calm
Cisco Netflow a handy tool for cheapskate attackers
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
Oi, Europe! Tell US feds to GTFO of our servers, say Microsoft and pals
By writing a really angry letter about how it's harming our cloud business, ta
HACKERS can DELETE SURVEILLANCE DVRS remotely – report
Hikvision devices wide open to hacking, claim securobods
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Getting ahead of the compliance curve
Learn about new services that make it easy to discover and manage certificates across the enterprise and how to get ahead of the compliance curve.