Sunday

16th Dec 2018

EU names China and Russia as top hackers

  • China was 'the top attacking country' on denial of service attacks (Photo: SimonQ錫濛譙)

Beware of opening emails entitled 'Official Data Breach Notification' or 'UPS Label Delivery' if you are a CEO, the EU's cyber-defence agency, Enisa, warned on Monday (15 January).

Those subject headings were the most popular sent in fake or 'phishing' emails that installed malware on victims' computers in 2017, along with 'IT Reminder: Your Password Expires', 'Please Read Important from Human Resources', and 'All Employees: Update your Healthcare Info'.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Russian cyber espionage groups targeted Norwegian and Dutch ministries (Photo: Kelly)

The Greece-based EU agency noted in its annual report that cyber criminals out to steal money were the main "threat agent" who were "responsible for at least two-thirds of the incidents registered".

It said phishing "was reportedly responsible for 90 to 95 percent of successful attacks worldwide" and that the most sophisticated attacks were aimed at CEOs of large companies.

"Insiders" - personnel inside companies or government agencies who stole data - were the second biggest threat agent.

But Enisa noted that nation states were also out to steal information or to blackmail victims, using cyber-espionage, ransomware, malware, botnets, and other tricks.

"Nation states have become the third most active threat agent group with over 20 percent of incidents," it said, adding that "Given the advanced capabilities of this group, performed attacks are often difficult to identify and defend. This means that it is very likely that the actual activity of this group may be much higher".

It named China and Russia several times in its study.

China, India, and Russia were the three most "botnet infected countries", it said, referring to automated internet accounts used to send out spam, malware, denial of service attacks, and other malicious tricks.

The EU report said China was "the top attacking country" on denial of service attacks, which paralyse target systems by flooding them with data. It said 60 percent of all such attacks came from "China's army of hackers" and that 90 percent of them targeted US entities.

Attackers could hire botnet hordes on some Chinese sites "that even include dashboards showing the number of attacks carried out and the number of online bots" available the report said.

They could also rent "exploit kits", software designed to find security loopholes in users' systems, for up to $2,000 a month, on underground websites that offered online "support to both Russian and English speaking clients".

The EU report named three Chinese and Russian cyber-espionage groups - APT17389, APT28387, and APT29388 - as being among the most active and dangerous last year.

It said the China-based APT17389 group conducted "network intrusions against US government entities, the defence industry, law firms, information technology companies, mining companies, and non-government organisations".

It noted that APT28387, "a cyber-espionage group most probably sponsored by the Russian government" had tried to steal VIP guests' data in "hotels in at least seven European countries" in 2017.

The APT29388 group, "a Russian hacker group believed to be associated with Russian intelligence", had targeted Dutch and Norwegian government ministries.

"Understanding the key cybersecurity threats that the EU must respond to and the way in which they are evolving is essential if we are to successfully protect the cyberspace, the key enabler of the EU digital single market," Mariya Gabriel, the EU commissioner for the digital economy, said.

In other trends, Enisa noted that Mac users were increasingly coming under attack.

"Mac users were kept busy dealing with more malware in the second quarter [of 2017] than they had seen in all of 2016," it said.

The report noted the scale of the problem by citing one botnet network on Twitter, the US social media giant, that operated 350,000 fake accounts.

It also noted that individual companies held vast oceans of personal data that could be compromised in single attacks.

An attack on DU Group, a US web application company, last year got access to two billion "user phone numbers, names, and addresses" it said.

NetEase, a Chinese internet firm, let slip 1.2 billion email addresses and passwords that were later sold to other hackers on the web, while River City Media, a US online marketing company, lost 1.4 billion "names, addresses, IP addresses, and email addresses, as well as an undisclosed number of financial documents, chat logs, and backups", Enisa said.

Interview

EU 'underestimated' cyber-crime

"Cybercrime is growing much, much faster than I think we anticipated," the EU commissioner for security, Julian King, told EUobserver.

Opinion

The curious case of the Czech president's missing advisor

A Chinese business advisor to the Czech president has gone missing. The disappearance of one of the main conduits for Chinese investment into the Czech Republic leaves questions for Milos Zeman and his 'special relationship' with president Xi Jinping.

MEPs and EU staff hid from Strasbourg gunman

MEPs and others hid in restaurants and alleys in Strasbourg during a gunman's rampage on Tuesday which left at least three dead and France on emergency alert.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders endorse creation of eurozone budget
  2. Selmayr has no comment on MEPs' call to resign
  3. May had 'robust' discussion with Juncker
  4. UK to continue talks on EU 'assurances'
  5. EU invests €20m in AI software for self-driving cars
  6. Belgian PM 'not optimistic', urges 'no deal' Brexit preparedness
  7. Romanian president expects no Brexit summit in January
  8. Swedish MPs reject Lofven to lead new government

Opinion

EU parliament vote strengthens whistleblower protection

We must not undervalue what a massive step the European Parliament vote represents. The hard work has paid off. We can take a moment to celebrate, but the hard work begins again for finalising strong protection for European whistleblowers.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. No more Brexit talks, despite May's pleas
  2. EU leaders stuck on asylum reform
  3. Orban and other PMs spread fake news, says Juncker
  4. Fishing quota and no-deal Brexit preparation This WEEK
  5. Kosovo has right to own army, Germany and US say
  6. EU needs election-meddling stress tests
  7. Russian and US obstruction was 'insult' to climate scientists
  8. EU-27 unimpressed by May, offer little on Brexit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  2. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  3. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  5. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  6. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  8. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  10. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us