A malware known as NanHaiShu or “South China Sea Remote Access Trojan (RAT)” in Mandarin was discovered to have gathered intelligence related to the South China Sea arbitration case from the Philippines and organizations involved in assisting the South East Asian country which won an international arbitration case against China.
Hackers believed to be from China have attacked government and private-sector organizations linked to the row over the key waterway, a Japan Times report said quoting an analysis by Finnish cybersecurity firm F-Secure.
While asserting that it had no proof of Chinese government involvement, the F-Secure analysis said that hackers have tried to extract sensitive information from the Philippines and other targets.
Notable targets included the Philippines Department of Justice, the organizers of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit and an unidentified major international law firm involved in last month’s South China Sea arbitration decision at The Hague which went in favour of the Philippines, the report said.
The Department of Justice is believed to have played a key role in the case and reports ahead of a November 2015 APEC event in the Philippines had said leaders attending the summit would discuss the South China Sea issue, the Japan Times report said.
F-Secure said more organizations had been targeted, but details had been withheld at their request. The omitted portions of the report, however, did not indicate that the arbitration court would itself have been targeted by this malware campaign, Erka Koivunen, a cybersecurity adviser with F-Secure, was paraphrased in The Japan Times.
“Based on the specific selection of organizations targeted for attack by this malware, as well as indications revealed in our technical analysis of the malware itself, we believe the threat actor to be of Chinese origin,” the F-Secure report said.
The first version of the malware was spotted by the firm in January 2015, just after the Permanent Court of Arbitration posted a press release about the case asking for more information from the Philippine government.
While the malware samples uncovered by F-Secure had initially been connecting to command-and-control servers hosted by a U.S. cloud-computing service, that changed on Oct. 26, 2015, when all servers pointed to a Chinese IP address. This shift coincided with reports of a U.S. Navy ship making the first in a planned series of so-called freedom of navigation operations near Chinese-controlled islets in the South China Sea.
Called a Remote Access Trojan (RAT), it is spread in spear-phishing email messages that contain the malware as a file attachment, the report said. The email message contents include, among other things, industry-specific terminology indicating they were deliberately crafted with specific targets in mind.
Delivered via email in the form of convincingly crafted decoy files, the victim is enticed to open the attachment and voluntarily turn off protections, according to Koivunen, one of the authors of the F-Secure report.
One email, for example, targeted a Philippines Department of Justice employee with an attachment claiming to contain details of “staff bonuses.”
“The malware uses no vulnerabilities to get past security controls; rather it uses social-engineering tactics to convince the targeted user to take the trojan malware inside and install it on his or her computer,” Koivunen told Japan Times.
China could place upto 24 fighter aircraft in hangers it is building in the disputed Spratly Islands, which the Philippines' claims is a part of its exclusive economic zone. Beijing has built three operational runways in the disputed Fiery Cross, Mischief and Subi Reefsislands which it claims is for civilian use but in reality, military fighter and transport planes regularly operate to the islands, a report in Philstar
The Indian Cabinet Committee on Security chaired by the Prime Minister has cleared INR 4300 crore (US $644 million) contract for the Army to induct and deploy fourth BrahMos regiment in the northeast as a deterrent against China. A regiment consists of around 100 missiles, five mobile autonomous launchers on 12x12 heavy-duty trucks and a mobile command post, among other hardware and software,
China had conducted a reconnaissance mission with Tupolev Tu153M aircraft prior to its transgression in the Barahoti area in Uttarkhand district. The aircraft used by Chinese Peoples Liberation Army was armed with Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) which provides broad-area imaging at high resolutions
A malware called VPNFilter targeted at routers in Ukraine has infiltrated devices in some 54 nations, warns Talos, the cybersecurity division of computer systems company Cisco. "While this isn't definitive by any means, we have also observed VPNFilter, a potentially destructive malware, actively infecting Ukrainian hosts at an alarming rate, utilizing a command and control infrastructure dedicated to that country," Anadolu Agency reports quoting an announcement made by Talos
The Philippines has chosen to stop allowing the US, its defense ally, from staging patrols in its territory for South China Sea missions, in order to smooth out territorial disputes with China. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that the Philippines will not allow its territory to be used as a staging ground for US patrols, AP reports
Indonesian Air Force will hold its largest military exercise this week near some of its islands in South China Sea. “We want to show our existence in the area
Philippines has awarded $337 million contract to South Korean Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) to build two modern warships for its Navy. The Philippine Department of National Defense (DND) initiated the acquisition of the two battleships nearly three years ago to prompt the upgrade of the country's territorial defense capabilities
Even as Japan has announced the deployment of US-made F-35 Stealth fighters, Chinese media has claimed that the home-grown stealth aircraft, the J-20 has completed its research and development phase and is entering the stage of mass production. The production is slated at two fighters per month and at this rate, China may be able to deploy 36 J-20 fighters by early 2018
Japan has delivered the first of 10 patrol vessels to Philippines as part of the official development assistance loan to help Manilas maritime capabilities. The 44-meter multi-role patrol vessel will be assigned to the Philippine coast guard
Russia To Soon Test MC-21 Jet Powered By PD-14 Engine
Denmark to Integrate Kongsberg's Protector RWS On Piranha Military Vehicles
California to get three S-70i FIREHAWKS
Russian "Spy" Ship Receives Panama Canal Permit Following Brief Blockade
Germany To Finalise Order for 38 Eurofighter Jets, 110 E-Scan Radars
Turkish Navy to get First Indigenous Aircraft Carrier in 2020
Bechtel Bags US Navy's $1.4Bn Naval Nuclear Propulsion Components Contract
Indian Air Force to Buy 83 Tejas Jets by March 2020
Several joint production and direct procurement programs could be halted if the US and Europe carry through with their threat...
Sanctions-hit Iran has found ingenious ways to develop military hardware
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is rapidly permeating the defence industry to aid and improve human decision-making
Upgrade of Russias Sukhoi Su-30SM fighters to equip them with armaments, radar, sensors and engines from the more powerful Su-35...
US companies sanctioned by China for supplying weapons to Taiwan may be denied rare earth elements (REEs), which have critical...
While the US F-35 stealth aircraft has become one the fastest selling fighter jets in the world aircraft market, thanks...