Security

Report: Hackers ‘aligned’ with Vietnam government attacked international firms and media

Comment

Image Credits: Brian A Jackson (opens in a new window) / Shutterstock (opens in a new window)

A hacker group “aligned with Vietnamese government interests” carried out attacks on corporate companies, journalists and overseas governments over the past three years, according to a report from cyber security firm FireEye.

FireEye, which works with large companies to secure their assets from cyber threats, said it has tracked at least 10 separate attacks from the group — referred to as OceanLotus, or APT32 — since 2014. Targets included members of the media, and private and public sector organizations from across Germany, China, the U.S., the Philippines, the UK and Vietnam itself, according to the report.

The group used sophisticated tactics to deliver malware that, when enabled, could give remote access to devices and files on a host machine, potentially opening up troves of private information to outsiders.

In one incident, an undisclosed European corporation was “compromised” before developing a manufacturing facility in Vietnam, FireEye said. Other attacks were made against overseas-based Vietnamese journalists, companies with plans to expand into Vietnam and Vietnam-based offices of consulting companies with global clientele.

FireEye claimed the hacker group is behind previously publicized attacks on government agencies and private companies in China — documented by Qihoo360 — and media and dissidents in Vietnam, as noted by the EFF.

FireEye’s Nick Carr, who authored the report, admitted that there is no direct linkage between the group and the Vietnamese government, but he argued that analysis of the targets and the nature of the attacks makes a connection clear.

“APT32 accessed personnel details and other data from multiple victim organizations that would be of very little use of to any party other than the Vietnamese government,” Carr said in a statement to TechCrunch. “Additionally, the timing of APT32’s intrusions appears to correspond with many its victims’ engagements with the Vietnamese government on regulatory matters.”

The Vietnamese government denied the claims.

“The government of Vietnam does not allow any form of cyber-attacks against organizations or individuals. All cyber-attacks or threats to cybersecurity, must be condemned and severely punished in accordance with regulations and laws,” a spokesperson told Reuters.

Beyond targeting media that may be viewed as a threat to its single-party political system — which has jailed bloggers and heavily regulates media — Carr said that Vietnam’s adoption of cyber attacks is symptomatic of a wider trend among smaller nations who seek an edge against other governments, or to aid national businesses that battle international rivals.

“The unauthorized access [from attacks] could serve as a platform for law enforcement, intellectual property theft, or anticorruption measures that could ultimately erode the competitive advantage of targeted organizations,” Carr wrote.

“While actors from China, Iran, Russia, and North Korea remain the most active cyber espionage threats tracked and responded to by FireEye, APT32 reflects a growing host of new countries that have adopted this dynamic capability,” he added.

It’s been a hectic few days for the information security industry. But FireEye’s report and its findings are not related to the recent wave of global cyber attacks known as WannaCry, which began with a wave of malware outbreaks late last week.

Those attacks, which appear to have been triggered by a group called Shadow Brokers leaking details of NSA hacking tools, are believed to have affected close to 100 countries already, including the UK’s National Health ServiceExperts are bracing themselves for a second round as the new business week begins across the world.

More TechCrunch

London-based fintech Vitesse has closed a $93 million Series C round of funding led by investment giant KKR.

Vitesse, a payments and treasury management platform for insurers, raises $93M to fuel US expansion

Zen Educate, an online marketplace that connects schools with teachers, has raised $37 million in a Series B round of funding. The raise comes amid a growing teacher shortage crisis…

Zen Educate raises $37M and acquires Aquinas Education as it tries to address the teacher shortage

“When I heard the released demo, I was shocked, angered and in disbelief that Mr. Altman would pursue a voice that sounded so eerily similar to mine.”

Scarlett Johansson says that OpenAI approached her to use her voice

A new self-driving truck — manufactured by Volvo and loaded with autonomous vehicle tech developed by Aurora Innovation — could be on public highways as early as this summer.  The…

Aurora and Volvo unveil self-driving truck designed for a driverless future

The European venture capital firm raised its fourth fund as fund as climate tech “comes of age.”

ETF Partners raises €284M for climate startups that will be effective quickly — not 20 years down the road

Copilot, Microsoft’s brand of generative AI, will soon be far more deeply integrated into the Windows 11 experience.

Microsoft wants to make Windows an AI operating system, launches Copilot+ PCs

Hello and welcome back to TechCrunch Space. For those who haven’t heard, the first crewed launch of Boeing’s Starliner capsule has been pushed back yet again to no earlier than…

TechCrunch Space: Star(side)liner

When I attended Automate in Chicago a few weeks back, multiple people thanked me for TechCrunch’s semi-regular robotics job report. It’s always edifying to get that feedback in person. While…

These 81 robotics companies are hiring

The top vehicle safety regulator in the U.S. has launched a formal probe into an April crash involving the all-electric VinFast VF8 SUV that claimed the lives of a family…

VinFast crash that killed family of four now under federal investigation

When putting a video portal in a public park in the middle of New York City, some inappropriate behavior will likely occur. The Portal, the vision of Lithuanian artist and…

NYC-Dublin real-time video portal reopens with some fixes to prevent inappropriate behavior

Longtime New York-based seed investor, Contour Venture Partners, is making progress on its latest flagship fund after lowering its target. The firm closed on $42 million, raised from 64 backers,…

Contour Venture Partners, an early investor in Datadog and Movable Ink, lowers the target for its fifth fund

Meta’s Oversight Board has now extended its scope to include the company’s newest platform, Instagram Threads, and has begun hearing cases from Threads.

Meta’s Oversight Board takes its first Threads case

The company says it’s refocusing and prioritizing fewer initiatives that will have the biggest impact on customers and add value to the business.

SeekOut, a recruiting startup last valued at $1.2 billion, lays off 30% of its workforce

The U.K.’s self-proclaimed “world-leading” regulations for self-driving cars are now official, after the Automated Vehicles (AV) Act received royal assent — the final rubber stamp any legislation must go through…

UK’s autonomous vehicle legislation becomes law, paving the way for first driverless cars by 2026

ChatGPT, OpenAI’s text-generating AI chatbot, has taken the world by storm. What started as a tool to hyper-charge productivity through writing essays and code with short text prompts has evolved…

ChatGPT: Everything you need to know about the AI-powered chatbot

SoLo Funds CEO Travis Holoway: “Regulators seem driven by press releases when they should be motivated by true consumer protection and empowering equitable solutions.”

Fintech lender SoLo Funds is being sued again by the government over its lending practices

Hard tech startups generate a lot of buzz, but there’s a growing cohort of companies building digital tools squarely focused on making hard tech development faster, more efficient and —…

Rollup wants to be the hardware engineer’s workhorse

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is not just about groundbreaking innovations, insightful panels, and visionary speakers — it’s also about listening to YOU, the audience, and what you feel is top of…

Disrupt Audience Choice vote closes Friday

Google says the new SDK would help Google expand on its core mission of connecting the right audience to the right content at the right time.

Google is launching a new Android feature to drive users back into their installed apps

Jolla has taken the official wraps off the first version of its personal server-based AI assistant in the making. The reborn startup is building a privacy-focused AI device — aka…

Jolla debuts privacy-focused AI hardware

The ChatGPT mobile app’s net revenue first jumped 22% on the day of the GPT-4o launch and continued to grow in the following days.

ChatGPT’s mobile app revenue saw its biggest spike yet following GPT-4o launch

Dating app maker Bumble has acquired Geneva, an online platform built around forming real-world groups and clubs. The company said that the deal is designed to help it expand its…

Bumble buys community building app Geneva to expand further into friendships

CyberArk — one of the army of larger security companies founded out of Israel — is acquiring Venafi, a specialist in machine identity, for $1.54 billion. 

CyberArk snaps up Venafi for $1.54B to ramp up in machine-to-machine security

Founder-market fit is one of the most crucial factors in a startup’s success, and operators (someone involved in the day-to-day operations of a startup) turned founders have an almost unfair advantage…

OpenseedVC, which backs operators in Africa and Europe starting their companies, reaches first close of $10M fund

A Singapore High Court has effectively approved Pine Labs’ request to shift its operations to India.

Pine Labs gets Singapore court approval to shift base to India

The AI Safety Institute, a U.K. body that aims to assess and address risks in AI platforms, has said it will open a second location in San Francisco. 

UK opens office in San Francisco to tackle AI risk

Companies are always looking for an edge, and searching for ways to encourage their employees to innovate. One way to do that is by running an internal hackathon around a…

Why companies are turning to internal hackathons

Featured Article

I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Women in tech still face a shocking level of mistreatment at work. Melinda French Gates is one of the few working to change that.

2 days ago
I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s  broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Blue Origin has successfully completed its NS-25 mission, resuming crewed flights for the first time in nearly two years. The mission brought six tourist crew members to the edge of…

Blue Origin successfully launches its first crewed mission since 2022

Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of the top entertainment and sports talent agencies, is hoping to be at the forefront of AI protection services for celebrities in Hollywood. With many…

Hollywood agency CAA aims to help stars manage their own AI likenesses