Home Security Chinese group claimed to have hacked Cambodian poll bodies

Chinese group claimed to have hacked Cambodian poll bodies

Chinese group claimed to have hacked Cambodian poll bodies Pixabay

Security firm FireEye claims it has found files that prove a group known as TEMP.Periscope, which it claims is of Chinese origin, has compromised a number of Cambodian entities which are connected to that country's electoral system.

In a blog post, the company said that included among the entities compromised were the Cambodian body overseeing elections and opposition figures. Cambodia is scheduled to hold parliamentary elections on 29 July.

Researchers Scott Henderson, Steve Miller, Dan Perez, Marcin Siedlarz, Ben Wilson and Ben Read wrote that the activity observed was an indication that TEMP.Periscope had a number of intrusion tools and targeted many different victims "which is in line with typical Chinese-based APT efforts".

"We expect this activity to provide the Chinese government with widespread visibility into Cambodian elections and government operations," they said. "Additionally, this group is clearly able to run several large-scale intrusions concurrently across a wide range of victim types."

In 2017, FireEye was in the news when one of its staff, Adi Peretz, was compromised by a group called HackTheAnalyst and corporate documents about him posted on the Web. The company, however, denied it had been hacked.

Despite the apparent sophistication of TEMP.Periscope — FireEye also mentioned that it had attacked a defence industrial base in the US, a chemical company in Europe and engineering and maritime entities in the US — the security firm said that it had discovered the current activity through unsecured sites on the Internet.

"FireEye analysed files on three open indexes believed to be controlled by TEMP.Periscope, which yielded insight into the group's objectives, operational tactics, and a significant amount of technical attribution/validation," the researchers wrote.

They said they had found three command and control servers and analysis of logs showed that the following had been compromised:

  • National Election Commission, Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Cambodian Senate, Ministry of Economics and Finance.
  • Member of Parliament representing Cambodia National Rescue Party.
  • Multiple Cambodians advocating human rights and democracy who have written critically of the current ruling party.
  • Two Cambodian diplomats serving overseas.
  • Multiple Cambodian media entities.

"Our analysis of the servers and surrounding data in this latest campaign bolsters our previous assessment that TEMP.Periscope is likely Chinese in origin," the researchers wrote. "Data from a control panel access log indicates that operators are based in China and are operating on computers with Chinese language settings.

"A log on the server revealed IP addresses that had been used to log in to the software used to communicate with malware on victim machines. One of the IP addresses, 112.66.188.28, is located in Hainan, China. Other addresses belong to virtual private servers, but artefacts indicate that the computers used to log in all cases are configured with Chinese language settings."

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

 

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