The New York Times reports that Kapersky Lab, a Russian cybersecurity company, issued a report on Monday saying that it had identified a sophisticated cyberespionage campaign that has been in operation since 2007. According to the report, the spy campaign targeted embassies, consulates and trade centers, in Europe, Asia and North America as part of a “sophisticated and very patient multiyear effort” to extract geopolitical and confidential intelligence from computers, network devices like routers and switches, and smartphones.
According to the report, the sophisticated malware infected machines with a basic “spearphishing” attack, in which they sent malicious e-mails to people within targeted organizations that contained malicious Microsoft Excel or Microsoft Word documents. Once opened, attackers were given full access to victims’ machines through well-known security exploits that were previously used in campaigns by Chinese hackers to spy on Tibetan activists and military and energy sector targets in Asia.
The attack, which appears to be Russian in origin, may come from Russian-speaking criminal syndicates which are thought to control a third of the estimated $12 billion global cybercrime market.