Chinese hackers now selecting most boring federal agencies as targets


The GAO seems like a really juicy target for espionage, actually.

As does the printing office if it handles the printing of classified documents.

My thoughts exactly. If you can’t hack the email, hack the printer they print them out on (because government people print out their emails for some bizarre reason).

The Office of Personnel is probably one of the best targets for a spy. It basically hands you a list of people to spear-fish, social-engineer and the like.

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Maybe they’re looking for our UFO intel, so they have a leg up for their space initiative!

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Even the most uninteresting-sounding government offices can have information which could be valuable to an attacker. For example, an agency that deals with oceans might have hyper-accurate ocean floor maps that would be of use to a foreign power’s submarine fleet, while reports on fishing stocks might allow them to know where to send their commercial fishing fleets (along with with how to avoid maritime patrols, etc.). Likewise, an agricultural agency’s reports might allow a hostile nation to know how large a military they can support via domestic foodstuffs.

And, of course, that’s just assuming nominal military or government interest. For government-supported economic espionage, knowing how much natural resources a country or region has is quite important–I believe Snowden revealed how the US government used its own intelligence-gathering capabilities to its advantage during the 2009 climate negotiations.

The US isn’t the only target, either. Last month, a colleague of mine investigated a targeted attack on the Vietnamese version of the US EPA. While we couldn’t be sure whom the actors were behind it, it certainly it’s not good for a foreign power to have access to their maps, surveys, studies and reports. There’s also the ACAD/Medre worm which infested Peru’s version of the US GAO a couple of years ago and exfiltrated so much data to China that the accounts it was sending them to ran out of disk space in a couple of instances.

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