While protesters clash with police on the streets of Hong Kong, an unseen battle is being fought on the Internet. A conflict between hackers and the Chinese government is running quietly alongside what takes place on the streets.
In unusually sophisticated attacks that analysts believe are coming from the Chinese regime, hackers are infiltrating the phones, tablets, and computers of pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong. The breaches allow them not only to know what the protesters are planning ahead of time, but will enable them to monitor the activists even after the protests end.
The shadowy world of hackers isn’t just on the side of the Chinese regime. Hackers in security are hard at work shining a light on the Chinese regime’s cyberattacks. Hacker activists, meanwhile, are also hard at work launching attacks on Chinese government websites and calling for support of the democracy activists on social media.
Infiltration for Spying
Steven Adair, CEO of security company Volexity, is currently investigating a set of targeted cyberattacks in Hong Kong designed to infect computers of people visiting pro-democracy websites.
His findings so far, along with findings from other researchers, create a disturbing picture.
“It looks like someone is trying to infect and keep tabs on all pro-democracy people in Hong Kong,” Adair said in a phone interview.
Volexity has been tracking an advanced cyberattack for the last few months, which is targeting websites in Hong Kong and Japan. A summary of their findings states, “In both countries, the compromised websites have been particularly notable for their relevance to current events and the high profile nature of the organizations involved.”
The attack through the democracy websites was not the first aimed at the protesters.
Two different attacks on Hong Kong democracy protesters were uncovered on Sept. 30 by researchers at Lacoon Mobile Security. What they found were advanced attacks on smartphones and tablets tailored to target democracy activists in Hong Kong.
According to Michael Shaulov, CEO of Lacoon Mobile Security, the Chinese regime has plenty of incentive to hack smartphones since “you are able to track communications over the device itself and gain access to real-time information.”
“If you’re a government actor, getting your hands on this type of information is really more powerful than getting information on laptops,” Shaulov said. “For the purpose of spying it’s probably the perfect tool.”
People with Android smartphones in Hong Kong started receiving messaging saying “Check out this Android app designed by Code4HK for the coordination of OCCUPY CENTRAL!”
The note sent on mobile messaging tool WhatsApp likely came off as legitimate. Code4HK is a community of programmers who have been developing technology to help in the democracy protests.
If a user clicked on the link, according to Lacoon Mobile Security, it would install an advanced tool called an mRAT that allows a hacker nearly full access to their phones.
Full article: A Cyberwar Quietly Rages Over Hong Kong (The Epoch Times)