Newsletters
Customer Relationship Management News NewsFactor Sites:       NewsFactor.com     Enterprise Security Today     CRM Daily     Business Report     Sci-Tech Today  
   
Home CRM Systems Customer Service Business Intelligence Sales & Marketing More Topics...
CIO Issues
Tame your scariest paperwork. Find Out How
Average Rating:
Rate this article:  
Chinese Hackers Accused of Using
Chinese Hackers Accused of Using 'Spearphishing'

By Robert Faturechi
May 22, 2014 9:38AM

Bookmark and Share
One of the most common tactics employed by the Chinese military officials accused of cyber-spying was "spearphishing," a twist on traditional phishing in which the scam email is made to look like it's from someone you know. Unlike traditional phishing, the spearphisher thrives on familiarity and knows your name, email address and more.
 



That link your boss emailed you: make sure it's actually from your boss and not a cabal of suspected Chinese military hackers.

That's one of the biggest takeaways from the cyber-spying indictment unsealed Monday by the U.S. Department of Justice. In it, five Chinese military officers were accused of committing economic espionage by hacking into the computers of U.S. companies involved in nuclear energy, steel manufacturing and solar energy.

One of their most common tactics, according to the 56-page indictment, was "spearphishing" -- a twist on traditional phishing in which the scam email is made to look like it's from someone you know.

The technique isn't particularly sophisticated, but cybersecurity experts warn that it can be tricky. Unlike traditional phishing, in which scammers send out a mass email hoping for someone to bite, the spearphisher "thrives on familiarity" and "knows your name, your email address, and at least a little about you," according to the website for Norton, the malware prevention and removal service. "The salutation on the email message is likely to be personalized: 'Hi Bob' instead of 'Dear Sir.' "

In one instance highlighted in the indictment, a Chinese officer allegedly emailed roughly 20 U.S. Steel employees purporting to be their company's chief executive. The message included a link that installed malware that gave the alleged Chinese conspirators suspects backdoor access to the company's computers, just weeks before the release of a report on an important trade dispute.

Several of the employees took the bait and clicked the link.

In another instance, the same Chinese officer allegedly sent employees at the company a message with the subject line "US Steel Industry Outlook" -- also including a link that surreptitiously installed malware.

"Spearphishing messages were typically designed to resemble e-mails from trustworthy senders, like colleagues, and encouraged the recipients to open attached files or click on hyperlinks in the messages," according to the indictment.

Spearphishers sometimes scan social media sites, such as Facebook, to glean details about users' friends in order to make their messages look more legitimate. These emails can refer to a recent online purchase or a mutual friend, causing users to let their guard down and be more willing to click or link or provide usernames, passwords or banking information.

Jon Heimerl, a strategist for security services provider Solutionary, said he had one client, a CEO at a company, who bought a new BMW every three years. A hacker found out he was looking to buy, sent him an email purporting to be from a local BMW dealer and asking him to fill out a survey in exchange for a discount. Heimel said that after his client did so from his personal email account, a virus opened on his work computer before sending out an email from his work account to everyone in the company.

The subject line, Heimerl said, was something about the company getting acquired, which prompted nearly everyone to open it.

"It pretty much shut them down for the better part of three days," he said.

The best defense, experts say, is to limit your personal information posted online, keep your security software up to date, and most importantly, verify that the people sending you emails are who they claim to be.

The consequences of not being careful can be severe. One of the alleged Chinese phishers, according to the indictment, was able to steal host names and descriptions for more than 1,700 company servers, including those that controlled physical access to the company's facilities and mobile access to the company's networks.
 


© 2014 Los Angeles Times (CA) under contract with NewsEdge. All rights reserved.
 

Tell Us What You Think
Comment:

Name:



Salesforce.com is the market and technology leader in Software-as-a-Service. Its award-winning CRM solution helps 82,400 customers worldwide manage and share business information over the Internet. Experience CRM success. Click here for a FREE 30-day trial.


 CIO Issues
1.   BlackBerry BES 10 Now Hosted
2.   Teaming Up: CIOs, IT Asset Managers
3.   Chinese Man Charged with Hacking
4.   Chinese Hackers Hit U.S. Officials
5.   Backlash Stirs Against H-1B Visas


advertisement
Backlash Stirs Against H-1B Visas
Debate over foreign workers continues.
Average Rating:
Police Hacking Methods Revealed
Global network of malware sketched.
Average Rating:
Why You Need To Hire a CCO
One reason: to increase the bottom line.
Average Rating:


advertisement
Product Information and Resources for Technology You Can Use To Boost Your Business

Network Security Spotlight
Wall Street Journal Hacked Again
Hacked again. That’s the story at the Wall Street Journal this week as the newspaper reports that the computer systems housing some of its news graphics were breached. Customers not affected -- yet.
 
Dropbox for Business Beefs Up Security
Dropbox is upping its game for business users. The cloud-based storage and sharing company has rolled out new security, search and other features to boost its appeal for businesses.
 
34 European Banks Hit by Android-Skirting Malware
Criminals have been finding gaping holes in Android-based two-factor authentication systems that banks around the world are using. The result: 34 banks in four European countries have been hit.
 

Enterprise Hardware Spotlight
Microsoft Makes Design Central to Its Future
Over the last four years, Microsoft has doubled the number of designers it employs, putting a priority on fashioning devices that work around people's lives -- and that are attractive and cool.
 
Contrary to Report, Lenovo's Staying in Small Windows Tablets
Device maker Lenovo has clarified a report that indicated it is getting out of the small Windows tablet business -- as in the ThinkPad 8 and the 8-inch Miix 2. But the firm said it is not exiting that market.
 
Seagate Unveils Networked Drives for Small Businesses
Seagate is out with five new networked attached storage products aimed at small businesses. The drives are for companies with up to 50 workers, and range in capacity from two to 20 terabytes.
 

Navigation
CRM Daily
Home/Top News | CRM Systems | Customer Service | Business Intelligence | Sales & Marketing | Contact Centers | Customer Data | CRM Press Releases
NewsFactor Network Enterprise I.T. Sites
NewsFactor Technology News | Enterprise Security Today | CRM Daily

NewsFactor Business and Innovation Sites
Sci-Tech Today | NewsFactor Business Report

NewsFactor Services
FreeNewsFeed | Free Newsletters

About NewsFactor Network | How To Contact Us | Article Reprints | Careers @ NewsFactor | Services for PR Pros | Top Tech Wire | How To Advertise

Privacy Policy | Terms of Service
© Copyright 2000-2014 NewsFactor Network. All rights reserved. Article rating technology by Blogowogo. Member of Accuserve Ad Network.