Chinese hackers attack Latvian foreign ministry website, shows report

  • 2013-12-10
  • From wire reports, RIGA

Chinese hackers breached the Latvian foreign ministry website in 2010

Chinese computer hackers have breached the Latvian Foreign Ministry website, it's been revealed.

A report from the New York Times on Dec. 10 shows hackers, reportedly state linked, eavesdropped on the computers of five European foreign ministries before last September's G20 Summit, which was dominated by the Syrian crisis,

The research by computer security firm FireEye Inc shows how hackers infiltrated the ministries' computer networks by sending emails to staff containing tainted files. Once recipients opened the documents, they loaded a malicious code onto their personal computers.

Though researchers do not name the hackers' targets in the report, The New York Times identified the foreign ministries through email addresses listed on the attackers’ web page.

According to the newspaper, computer breaches at the foreign ministries of the Czech Republic, Portugal, Bulgaria, Latvia and Hungary have been traced to the hackers.

The report does not link the attacks to a specific group in China, but security experts say the list of victims points to a state-affiliated campaign.

China’s Foreign Ministry officials have said China does not sanction hacking, and is itself a victim of hacking attacks. A spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry did not return a request for comment on Monday, the New York Times reports.

Rob Rachwald, FireEye’s senior director of research, said the company had witnessed other campaigns in which attackers had broken into foreign ministries and think tanks to steal early drafts of policy papers specifically related to China.

Mr. Rachwald said FireEye had notified the latest victims but that in many cases they only deployed bare basic computer security defenses in response.