GOVERNMENT and private organizations in the Philippines and other Asia-Pacific countries are in the crosshairs of nation-state groups conducting cyber espionage for other states, FireEye Inc. executives said.
State-sponsored cyber espionage are targeting national security and diplomatic groups, the defense industry, banking, telecommunications, media and other critical industries in the region, said Bryce Boland, FireEye chief technology officer for Asia Pacific, in a media briefing in Manila on Thursday.
One of these nation-state groups is the “Conference Crew”, Boland pointed out. Based in China, this group undertook intrusions to public and private organizations in at least seven countries in the region, including the Philippines. The Conference Crew enters the computer systems of the target by dispatching spear-phishing e-mails to plant the malware (malicious software), he said.
The APT32, another cyber-espionage group, was detected targeting technology infrastructure firm, a consumer product corporation and the Philippine government itself, Boland added.
Aligned with Vietnamese state interest, the 32 nation-state group also targeted journalists, he said.
“Philippine organizations face some of the most intense and daunting cyber-security threats we see in Asia, and we don’t expect them to recede in the near future,” Boland said in a statement. “The current geopolitical climate in the region has generated significant uncertainty, and governments are turning to cyber espionage to glean more insights in order to alleviate this uncertainty.”
Most of the private firms, as well as public organizations in the Philippines, are vulnerable and not prepared for a prompt response to battle these nation-state groups, he added.
State-sponsored intelligence would continue and grow in the coming days, said Reese.
“Cyber espionage state by state” could be expected, Reese said, noting the growing threats are “a multinational problem”.
FireEye President Travis Reese said the intelligence these groups gather could be used for the economic gain of the nation-state that sponsors their cyber espionage.
Image credits: Alysa Salen