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Facebook tracks ‘OceanLotus’ hackers to IT firm in Vietnam

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CyberOne reveals little details about itself on its web site, saying solely that it has round 200 staff offering a variety of “essential security technologies”.

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Cybersecurity investigators at Facebook have traced a hacking group lengthy suspected of spying on behalf of the Vietnamese authorities to an IT firm in Ho Chi Minh City.

The announcement on Friday is the primary time Facebook has publicly uncovered an offensive hacking operation and, if confirmed, can be a uncommon case of suspected state-backed cyberspies being tracked to a particular organisation.

The hackers, generally known as OceanLotus or APT32, have been accused for years of spying on political dissidents, companies and international officers. Reuters reported this yr that the group had tried to break into China’s Ministry of Emergency Management and the federal government of Wuhan because the COVID-19 outbreak first unfold.

Also learn | Criminals getting smarter in use of digital currencies to launder cash

Facebook mentioned it had discovered hyperlinks between cyberattacks beforehand attributed to OceanLotus and a Vietnamese firm known as CyberOne Group, which lists an tackle on a sidestreet in a business district of Ho Chi Minh metropolis.

CyberOne Group denied being linked to the hackers.

“We are NOT Ocean Lotus,” an individual working the corporate’s now-suspended Facebook web page mentioned when contacted by Reuters. ”It’s a mistake.”

Vietnam’s international ministry, which handles enquiries from worldwide media, didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark. The ministry has beforehand denied connections to OceanLotus assaults.

Facebook mentioned the hackers had used its platforms to perform a variety of cyberattacks, a few of which employed faux accounts to trick targets by posing as activists, companies and attainable love pursuits.

Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity coverage, mentioned his crew had discovered technical proof that linked CyberOne’s Facebook web page to accounts used in the hacking marketing campaign, in addition to to different OceanLotus assaults.

Also learn | Cybercrime might price the world nearly $1 trillion in 2020, McAfee says

He declined to element the precise proof, saying to accomplish that would make the group tougher to observe in the long run. But he mentioned it included on-line infrastructure, malicious code, and different hacking instruments and strategies.

“The actors in this space use some very defined techniques and if we are too public about how we observe those, it really does harm our ability to catch more of this,” Gleicher mentioned.

Movie Theatre and Yoga

Although OceanLotus has not gained the extent of notoriety in the West as some suspected Chinese and Russian state-backed hacking operations, it has been prolific in southeast Asia.

Ben Read, a senior supervisor at U.S. cybersecurity firm FireEye, and Marc-ķtienne Lşveillş, a researcher at Slovakian software program safety group ESET, mentioned the hacking exercise uncovered by Facebook matched operations attributed to OceanLotus.

Read mentioned OceanLotus had been energetic since a minimum of 2013 and had “all the hallmarks of a substantial state-backed organisation acting in support of Vietnamese government”.

Facebook mentioned it didn’t have ample proof to attribute OceanLotus past CyberOne Group, which it mentioned has additionally used the names CyberOne Security, CyberOne Technologies, HŔnh Tinh Company Limited, Planet and Diacauso.

CyberOne reveals little details about itself on its web site, saying solely that it has round 200 staff offering a variety of “essential security technologies”.

A careers web page that was eliminated shortly after Reuters contacted the corporate marketed positions for folks with hacking expertise and expertise in malware evaluation. Recruiters boasted of a beneficiant advantages bundle, together with free meals, a mini film theatre and after-work yoga.

In Vietnam, Facebook is navigating a standoff with authorities officers who’ve threatened to ban it if it doesn’t agree to censorship calls for. Reuters reported in April that Facebook had complied with a authorities request to enhance its censorship of “anti-state” posts after its servers in Vietnam had been taken offline, slowing visitors there to a crawl.

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