Monday

9th Dec 2019

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

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join 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. EU agrees future human rights sanctions
  2. Greens demand Zahradil conflict of interest probe
  3. EU commission to 'correct mistake' on enlargement
  4. Luxembourg pushes EU to recognise Palestine
  5. Minister: 'All Brussels kids should be trilingual at 18'
  6. Macron pushes pension reform despite protests
  7. Marin becomes Finland's youngest prime minister
  8. Greece denies access to fair asylum process, report says

This is the (finally) approved European Commission

MEPs gave the green light to the entire new European Commission during the plenary session in Strasbourg - but with the abstention of the Greens and a rejection by the leftist group GUE/NGL.

Magazine

Welcome to the EU engine room

Welcome to the EU engine room: the European Parliament (EP's) 22 committees, which churn out hundreds of new laws and non-binding reports each year and which keep an eye on other European institutions.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us