Security experts from FireEye have discovered a new cyber espionage campaign launched by the Chinese APT3 group against Hong Kong Government before upcoming parliamentary elections that are to be held today September 4.
The hackers targeted two Hong Kong government departments to steal information related upcoming elections.
APT3 hackers used spear-phishing emails to lure victims to websites used to deliver malicious code on victims’ PC. According to FireEye, the malicious phishing emails claimed to include information about a report on election results, they include a link to the malicious website.
APT3 was first spotted by FireEye in 2014, the ATP group was using exploits targeting recently disclosed vulnerabilities in Windows. The experts at FireEye speculated the APT3 is the same actor behind the “Operation Clandestine Fox” uncovered by the company in April 2014. The hackers exploited an IE zero-day vulnerability in a series of targeted attacks.
FireEye reported in a blog post the details of the attacks run by the APT3 that exploited the Windows OLE bug and also another Windows privilege escalation vulnerability (CVE-2014-4113).
Cyber espionage campaigns conducted to gather information about government and political activities in Southeast Asia are not a novelty, the Government of Beijing is one of the most active in this sense.
“Typically when we see government attacks on other governments, it’s about intelligence gathering and trying to gain access to information they can’t get via other means,” Bryce Boland, FireEye CTO for the Asia-Pac, told Agence France-Presse.
China always made political pressure on the local Honk Kong government to discredit political opponents and those candidates that fight for the independence of the country.