Chinese hackers target Southeast Asia, India, researchers say

admin   •   April 13, 2015   •   2653

BY JEREMY WAGSTAFF


A magnifying glass is held in front of a computer screen in this picture illustration taken in Berlin May 21, 2013.
REUTERS/PAWEL KOPCZYNSKI/FILES

(Reuters) – Hackers, most likely from China, have been spying on governments and businesses in Southeast Asia and India uninterrupted for a decade, researchers at internet security company FireEye Inc said.

In a report released on Monday, FireEye said the cyber espionage operations dated back to at least 2005 and “focused on targets – government and commercial – who hold key political, economic and military information about the region.”

“Such a sustained, planned development effort coupled with the (hacking) group’s regional targets and mission, lead us to believe that this activity is state-sponsored – most likely the Chinese government,” the report’s authors said.

Bryce Boland, Chief Technology Officer for Asia Pacific at FireEye and co-author of the report, said the attack was still ongoing, noting that the servers the attackers used were still operational, and that FireEye continued to see attacks against its customers, who number among the targets.

Reuters couldn’t independently confirm any of the assertions made in the report.

China has always denied accusations that it uses the Internet to spy on governments, organizations and companies. Neither the Foreign Ministry nor the Cyberspace Administration of China, the Internet regulator, immediately responded to written requests for comment on the FireEye report on Monday.

China has been accused before of targeting countries in South and Southeast Asia. In 2011, researchers from McAfee reported a campaign dubbed Shady Rat which attacked Asian governments and institutions, among other targets.

Efforts by the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to build cyber defenses have been sporadic. While ASEAN has long acknowledged its importance, “very little has come of this discourse,” said Miguel Gomez, a researcher at De La Salle University in the Philippines.

The problem is not new: Singapore has reported sophisticated cyber-espionage attacks on civil servants in several ministries dating back to 2004.

UNDETECTED

The campaign described by FireEye differs from other such operations mostly in its scale and longevity, Boland said.

He said the group appeared to include at least two software developers. The report did not offer other indications of the possible size of the group or where it’s based.

The group remained undetected for so long it was able to re-use methods and malware dating back to 2005, and developed its own system to manage and prioritize attacks, even organizing shifts to cope with the workload and different languages of its targets, Boland told Reuters.

The attackers focused not only on governments, but on ASEAN itself, as well as corporations and journalists interested in China. Other targets included Indian or Southeast Asian-based companies in sectors such as construction, energy, transport, telecommunications and aviation, FireEye says.

Mostly they sought to gain access by sending so-called phishing emails to targets purported to come from colleagues or trusted sources, and containing documents relevant to their interests.

Boland said it wasn’t possible to gauge the damage done as it had taken place over such a long period, but he said the impact could be “massive”.

“Without being able to detect it, there’s no way these agencies can work out what the impacts are. They don’t know what has been stolen.”

(Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Miyoung Kim and Ian Geoghegan)

PH gov’t to verify reports on foreign ships’ alleged sewage dumping in West Philippine Sea

Robie de Guzman   •   July 14, 2021


MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government will look into a report that some foreign vessels were allegedly dumping sewage wastes in the contested parts of the West Philippine Sea, Malacañang said Wednesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque issued the statement in response to a report released by US-based geospatial imagery firm, Simularity, which stated that foreign ships have been dumping sewage and human wastes in the reefs of the disputed waters.

“The responsible answer is we are verifying first, we will react if it’s been verified,” Roque said in a press briefing.

“We should accord our neighbors, and our friends the presumption of good faith, when they say something about an issue,” he added.

If the reports are true, Roque said the government would never allow the Philippines to become a garbage dump.

He even cited the incident when the Philippines sent back to Canada its illegally exported trash in 2019.

The Department of National Defense earlier said it is already verifying the report as it noted that the photo accompanying it was supposedly taken on the Australian Great Barrier Reef in 2014.

PH extends ban on travelers from India, 6 other nations until July 31

Robie de Guzman   •   July 14, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government has extended its entry restrictions for travelers coming from India and six other countries until July 31, Malacañang said Wednesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) has approved the extension of travel restrictions on India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, United Arab Emirates, and Oman.

“Inaprubahan ng inyong IATF ang extension ng travel restrictions sa India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, United Arab Emirates at Oman hanggang katapusan ng buwan o July 31, 2021,” Roque announced during his regular press briefing.

The travel ban, imposed to prevent the further entry of highly contagious Delta COVID-19 variant, was supposed to lapse on July 15.

Roque said the IATF technical working group has also been instructed to further review and submit recommendations on the appropriate testing and quarantine protocols for inbound travelers from the above-mentioned countries as well as other nations considered as “high risk” for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Roque said President Rodrigo Duterte has yet to decide on the recommended travel ban on Indonesia due to a surge in cases of Delta COVID-19 variant. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

DFA urged to summon Chinese envoy over additional ships spotted in WPS

Robie de Guzman   •   June 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday called on the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to summon Beijing’s Ambassador to Manila anew over the reported presence of more Chinese ships within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) at the West Philippine Sea.

Hontiveros said the DFA should ask China’s envoy to explain the alleged presence of more than 100 ships this month as reported by a geospatial intelligence firm.

According to a report released Sunday by US-based Simularity, the number of “likely Chinese ships” spiked from 129 to 238, an increase of over 100 ships.

The report detailed that “between mid-May and mid-June 2021, the number of ships within the Union Banks increased from 9 to 236 and the number of ships near Gaven (Burgos) Reef in Tizard Bank decreased from 234 to 71.”

“Instead of de-escalating the tensions in the disputed waters, they doubled down. This clearly shows that China is shamelessly hellbent on aggravating the situation,” Hontiveros said in a statement.

She also urged Malacañang to condemn China’s “incessant presence” in the West Philippine Sea.

“The Palace should look Beijing straight in the eye and tell her to remove her ships from our territories,” she said.

As of writing, the DFA has yet to issue a statement on the matter.

Two months ago, the DFA summoned Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian for the first time over Beijing’s continued swarming of Julian Felipe Reef with over 200 of its vessels.

China has ignored the arbitral ruling that invalidated its nine-dash claim over the vast part of the South China Sea, including parts of the West Philippine Sea.

The DFA has repeatedly fired off diplomatic protest and called for the immediate withdrawal of the vessels.

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