About 300 private individuals, companies and organizations may be the victims of computer espionage after visiting the webpages of the Nobel Committee and the Nobel Institute in Oslo, Norway, on October 26 and 27. The visitors got spyware installed that gave outsiders full access to their computers. This week, the Nobel Institute reported the attack to the local police in Oslo.
The espionage via the Nobel Institute have been going on for a much longer period, and is much more extensive than previously known. the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten writes on their website. According to the National Security Agency it took eleven days from the site was hacked to the highly sophisticated break-in was discovered.
The cyber attack was discovered by Telenor Security Operation Center (TSOC) on October 25 after several customers of the telecom company had reported hacker attacks.
TSOC then notified the National Security Agency and the Nobel Institute.
“It is hardly economic motives behind this attack, and the people behind it obviously has a lot of money. To carry out such an attack, they have to exploit a weakness in software only available on the illicit market, and used it against the Norwegian Nobel Institute. This is a very expensive methods and could be used for other types of economic cyber crimes – instead of attacking Nobel Institute,” head of TSOC, Frank Trail. says.
All traces end up in a computer at a university in Taiwan that anyone has access to. This computer was the command center that controlled the attack, and a huge bulk of information was downloaded.
However, it’s practically impossible to find out who controlled the public computer in Taiwan.
“It can be anyone; from someone who wants to give China a bad reputation, to the Chinese themselves. We now have extra focus on this to see if the attacks repeats itself towards peace prize ceremony and the Nobel Prize Concert.”
“Between Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning, I estimate that we may have had up to 300 visitors using Firefox browser version 3.5 and 3.16,” librarian and IT Manager Bjørn H. Vang at the Nobel Institute says.
“We have no way to track who they are. What is most regrettable about the matter, is that people who have visited our website may have been harmed,” Vang adds.
Both the National Security Agency of Norway and the national criminal police are now investigating the data logs at the Nobel Institute.
“Internal Affairs has already made several technical studies. These are very complicated matters, especially if we end up in a server abroad. If it leads us to other countries, it will require a lot of resources and we’ll have to ask whether or NCIS Økokrim (The National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime) will take over the case. Even if we find out who is behind, so there are not many countries who are willing to disclose this information,” police chief, and head of the finance and corruption group, in Oslo, Rune Skjol, says.
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