Sunday

26th Sep 2021

Unknown hackers stealing EU files for past five years

  • Kaspersky's map of target countries (highlighted in red) (Photo: kaspersky.com)

Russian Internet security firm Kaspersky Lab says unknown hackers have been stealing EU and Nato-encrypted files.

The operation - dubbed "Red October" - claimed victims in embassies, government and military institutions in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

It also hit Australia, Iran, Israel, Russia and the US, among others.

But Belgium, the home of the EU and Nato headquarters, saw 15 separate breaches - the fourth highest number of any country on the list.

Over the past five years, the hackers pulled material, such as files, as well as keystroke history and Internet browsing history, from desktop and laptop computers, servers and USB sticks.

They also stole contact lists, call history and SMS-es from iPhone, Nokia and Windows Mobile smartphones.

In some cases, they hunted for files with extensions "acidcsa, acidsca, aciddsk, acidpvr, acidppr, acidssa," which "appear to refer to the classified software 'Acid Cryptofiler,' which is used by several entities such as the European Union and/or Nato," Kaspersky Lab said in its report.

They even accessed files which had been deleted by users and used malware which quietly resurrects itself after it has been discovered.

The hackers hid behind "proxy" servers in Austria, Germany and Russia.

But Kaspersky Lab's analysis of the malicious code shows traces of Chinese and Russian-speaking authors.

"Currently, there is no evidence linking this with a nation-state-sponsored attack. The information stolen by the attackers is obviously of the highest level and includes geopolitical data which can be used by nation states. Such information could be traded in the underground and sold to the highest bidder, which can be of course, anywhere," it noted.

It added that it began its investigation in October last year following a tip-off from an anonymous "partner."

In an unusual constellation in diplomatic terms, the firm thanked cyber security officials from Belarus, Romania and the US for helping it to nail down details.

Hackers stole Van Rompuy's emails

Hackers last summer raided the emails of EU Council chief Herman Van Rompuy and 10 other senior EU officials.

EU firms among targets in epic-scale hack

An unnamed state actor, believed by some experts to be China, has plundered data from three EU companies, on top of 69 other victims worldwide.

News in Brief

  1. Italy arrests Puigdemont on Spanish warrant
  2. EU and US hold trade talks despite French wrath
  3. EMA to decide on Pfizer vaccine booster in October
  4. EU welcomes Polish TV-station move
  5. Ukrainian parliament passes law to curb power of oligarchs
  6. EU could force Poland to pay lignite-coal fine
  7. Report: EU and US concerned by tech-giants' power
  8. EU states sign 'transparency pledge'

MEPs chide Portugal and Council in EU prosecutor dispute

The Belgian and Bulgarian prosecutors who were appointed had also not been the experts' first choice. Belgian prosecutor Jean-Michel Verelst has challenged the council's decision at the European Court of Justice.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed

Latest News

  1. Activists: 'More deaths' expected on Polish-Belarus border
  2. EU unveils common charger plan - forcing Apple redesign
  3. Central Europe leaders rail against 'new liberal woke virus'
  4. Yemen's refugees in 'appalling conditions', says UN agency
  5. VW emissions software was illegal, top EU lawyer says
  6. Sexism and the selection of the European Parliament president
  7. More French names linked to Russia election-monitoring
  8. Negotiations set for new, tougher, EU ethics body

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us