Ministries hacked by Vietnam group

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hacking group previously linked to the Vietnamese government has broken into Cambodian ministry computers, according to a report by cybersecurity company Volexity.

Volexity said the group had compromised websites of ministries or government agencies in Cambodia, Laos and the Philippines in order to load malicious code onto the computers of targeted victims.

The ministries included the ministries of foreign affairs, environment, civil service and social affairs, as well as the National Police, it said.

National Police spokesman Kirth Chantharith said their website was hacked about six months ago but he did not know who was responsible.  “It was hacked and we lost some data,” he said, without giving further details.

Steven Adair, founder and CEO of Volexity, said the hacking group was still active, and had compromised the website of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations over several high-profile Asean summit meetings. 

In May, cybersecurity company FireEye reported that the group, which it calls APT32 and is also known as OceanLotus, was actively targeting foreign multinationals and dissidents in Vietnam. FireEye said at the time the group’s activity was “of interest to the nation of Vietnam”.

Mr Adair said he had no basis to definitely say who was behind the group but said its capabilities rivalled those of most other advanced persistent threat groups, a term often used to refer to hacker groups that are believed to have state support.

“What we can say is that this is a very well-resourced attacker that is able to conduct several simultaneous attack campaigns.”

Vietnamese officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment. But Hanoi has in the past denied accusations of cyber-attacks against organisations or individuals, and said it would prosecute any cases.

Mr Adair said it was not clear how much information the group had stolen.

“We do not really have anything on the scale of data theft, but we can tell you the scale and reach of the sites they have compromised is very far reaching,” he said.

Three Asean websites, and the websites of dozens of Vietnamese non-government groups, individuals and media, were similarly targeted. The group also infected websites belonging to several Chinese oil companies.

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