- (Photo: Reuters)
Internet security company McAfee released a report on a massive global cyber espionage activity that hit more than 72 private as well as public organizations in 14 nations as a result of a five-year targeted operation called "Operation ShadyRAT" or "remote access tool."
The attacks seemed to be aimed at giving the perpetrator valuable political and economic insight as the report found about 22 out of the 72 attacked organizations were government related networks and a dozen others were organizations related to economy and trade.
Not only so, the perpetrator apparently had quite an appetite for U.S. military intelligence, having broken into 13 defense contractor networks, 12 from the United States.
The author of the report, Dmitri Alperovitch, who has been witnessing the attacks for at least five to six years has called the cyber-hack a "historically unprecedented transfer of wealth" which could, for the most part "represent a massive economic threat not just to individual companies...but to entire countries."
Alperovitch is certain that the perpetrators have stolen valuable and crucial information including "heavily guarded national secrets, negotiation plans, and exploration fields of new oil and gas field auctions" but what the intruders are actually doing with the stolen data "is still largely an open question" he writes.
The countries that fell victim to such scheme were the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, India, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan.
Who could possibly be behind these attacks?
Bloomberg reported that according to two security companies, hackers in China whose servers were traced to Beijing and Shanghai, were responsible for the cyber-invasion.
Fox News also reports that analysts speculate that "China is behind the attacks."
On the other hand, although McAfee in the report shares that they have been able to access one of the command and control servers of the invaders, it made no mention of who indeed is pulling the strings for such attacks. China isn't even mentioned once throughout the report.
The attacks that are thought to have begun around July 2006 with the intrusion to a South Korean Construction Company have been and are still being dealt with by numerous countries and organizations.
What is unnerving is the fact that all these technologically advanced countries fell victim to the intruders for several years. More concerning, however, is the uncertainty that remains over what these hackers will do with such confidential and prized information.