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Hacking linked to Chinese gangs: Ministry

Khy Sovuthy / Khmer Times Share:
A CNRP rally during last year’s commune elections. KT/Mai Vireak

The Ministry of Interior has been investigating Chinese hackers who attacked state institutions, media outlets and non-government organisations in Cambodia.

Last week, a US cybersecurity firm said a Chinese espionage group thought to have links with the Beijing government targeted the computers of Cambodian government agencies and opposition figures.

However, the Cambodian Interior Ministry said Chinese criminal gangs, who have also caused problems for the Chinese government, were involved.

“We are investigating this problem,” ministry spokesman General Khieu Sopheak said, urging all non-government organisations to find technical information teams to protect their data.

“It is not only the Interior Ministry which is concerned,” he said. “I also have concerns about this.”

He added that all parties should work together to battle the hackers, noting that anything strange on computers should not be clicked on and instead reported.

Meanwhile, members of the former CNRP said they were deeply concerned by the report from US Silicon Valley company FireEye which said the Cambodian Senate and ministries of foreign affairs, economics and finance, and interior were hacked in an operation linked to this month’s election.

“These attacks on CNRP leaders, media outlets, and human rights defenders who are fighting for a free and fair Cambodia should alarm the entire international community,” the members of the now-dissolved CNRP said in a statement.​ It was unbecoming for a global leader like China to target individuals and organisations fighting for democracy in Cambodia, it added.

“The Cambodian government must take action and put national security and sovereignty above all,” the statement said. “The government must launch an immediate investigation into the hacking with international and independent experts and take swift measures to restore public trust, including stopping the targeting of its critics by monitoring their social media accounts.”

Soeng Sen Karuna, a senior monitor with human rights group Adhoc, said his organisation did not have a clear idea of whether the hacking happened or not.

“If this problem really happened, it is the government’s obligation to protect all the people,” he said.

Mr Sen Karuna said his organisation had a technical information team to protect it, but he did not know to what level it could offer protection.

“I believe that other organisations must also pay attention to this problem,” he said.

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