Chinese Hackers Use Island Hopping to Steal Industrial and Commercial Secrets in 5-year Attack on the World’s Largest Technology Service Providers

AdobeStock_114662465Dubbed the “Cloud Hopper” campaign, victim companies such as Ericsson, HPE, IBM, and more were targets of exfiltration aimed and helping advance the Chinese economy.
According to a report from Reuters, hackers connected to the Chinese Ministry of State Security infiltrated the network of HPE’s cloud computing services and used it to attack other tech giants, including Fujitsu, Tata Consultancy Services, NTT Data, Dimension Data, Computer Sciences Corporation and DXC Technology.
The attack kill chain is all too familiar. According to the report:
  • Spear phishing is used to trick users into giving up their cloud credentials
  • Lateral movement within the HPE network was done to find servers that could bridge them into client networks
  • More lateral movement on the client network was done to identify valuable data
  • Data was encrypted and exfiltrated either back through the HPE network or directly through the victim company’s network

We’ve discussed the rise in the use of island hopping in supply chain scenarios; this is very similar in nature, with the only difference being the target network is on the same cloud infrastructure.

At the end of the day, it all starts with a simple phishing email; a single “click here” and the impact extends to multiple companies costing truly untold millions, as the extent of the data theft and the resulting damage is still unknown.

Putting users through continual Security Awareness Training is an absolute must in cases like this. It was a user that was fooled. Users need to be taught what to look for and how to avoid becoming the victim of what have become very convincing scams. Even if you’re not an IBM or an HPE, it doesn’t mean you’re not a target for island hopping attacks that take you and the businesses around you for all they can.

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Topics: Cybersecurity

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