Amnesty International’s Hong Kong office has been hit with a
“This sophisticated cyber-attack underscores the dangers posed by state-sponsored hacking and the need to be ever vigilant to the risk of such attacks. We refuse to be intimidated by this outrageous attempt to harvest information and obstruct our human rights work,” said Man-kei Tam, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong.
An Amnesty International’s spokesperson told the South China Morning Post that supporters’ names, Hong Kong identity card numbers and personal contact information were accessed by the hackers, no financial data was compromised.
In response to the cyber attack, the organization set up a “global task force composed of cyber security professionals.
The organizations discovered the security breach on March 15 during a scheduled migration of the Hong Kong office IT infrastructure to its international network.
“The initial findings reveal the attacks were perpetrated using tools and techniques associated with specific advanced persistent threat groups (APTs).” reads the announcement published by Amnesty International. “Cyber forensic experts were able to establish links between the infrastructure used in this attack and previously reported APT campaigns associated with the Chinese government.”
The organization has notified of the incident to all people that might have been impacted by the attack, it is also providing additional guidance to further ensure their data is secure. Amnesty also reported the attack to the Hong Kong’s Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data.
According to Amnesty International, Chinese authorities are hindering cooperation between international and domestic NGOs,
The group attributed the attack to “a known APT group” that used “tactics, techniques and procedures consistent with a well developed adversary”.
“This sophisticated cyberattack underscores the dangers posed by state-sponsored hacking and the need to be ever vigilant to the risk of such attacks,” said Man-kei Tam, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong.
“We refuse to be intimidated by this outrageous attempt to harvest information and obstruct our human rights work,” he said.
The investigation is still ongoing to determine the extent of the hack and the time window of exposure, but experts fear the attack has been happening already for a few years.
Amnesty is a privileged target for state-sponsored hackers because of its activity with other NGOs, journalists, activists, and civil rights movements worldwide.
In August 2018, Amnesty International revealed that one of its employees was targeted with a surveillance malware developed by an Israeli firm.
The human rights group published a report that provides details on the attack against its employee.
(SecurityAffairs – APT, Amnesty International)