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Hacker targets info on MH370 probe
Publication Date : 20-08-2014
Sophisticated malware disguised as news article found
The computers of high-ranking officials in agencies involved in the MH370 investigation were hacked and classified information was stolen.
The stolen information was allegedly being sent to a computer in China before CyberSecurity Malaysia – a Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation agency – had the transmissions blocked and the infected machines shut down.
The national cyber security specialist agency revealed that sophisticated malware (malicious software), disguised as a news article reporting that the missing Boeing 777 had been found, was e-mailed to theofficials on March 9, a day after the Malaysia Airlines plane vanished during its flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
"Over the South China Sea" attached to the e-mail was an executable file that was made to look like a PDF document, which released the malware when a user clicked on it.
A source told The Star that officials in the Department of Civil Aviation, the National Security Council and Malaysia Airlines were among those targeted by the hacker.
“We received reports from the administrators of the agencies telling us that their network was congested with e-mail going out of their servers,” said CyberSecurity Malaysia chief executive Dr Amirudin Abdul Wahab.
“Those e-mail contained confidential data from the officials’ computers, including the minutes of meetings and classified documents. Some of these were related to the MH370 investigation.”
About 30 PCs were infected by the malware, CyberSecurity Malaysia said. It discovered that the malware was sending the information to an IP address in China and asked the Internet service provider in that region to block it.
An IP (Internet Protocol) address is a unique numerical label assigned to each device on a computer network.
“This was well-crafted malware that antivirus programs couldn’t detect. It was a very sophisticated attack,” Amirudin said.
The agency and police are working with Interpol on the incident.
CyberSecurity Malaysia suspects the motivation for the hacking was the MH370 investigation.
“At that time, there were some people accusing the government of not releasing crucial information,” Amirudin said.
“But everything on the investigation had been disclosed.”
Flight MH370, flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, with 239 on board went missing on March 8 about 45 minutes after take-off.