More than ever before, journalists and activists are finding themselves under constant threat of cyberattack. The attacks in question often come from hostile governments who reject their reporting or awareness-raising efforts that call attention to human rights violations. This sort of attack is not centered on any one government or hemisphere. Every region of the world has governments committing heinous actions that they would prefer kept under wraps. It should come as no surprise then that the human-rights organization Amnesty International has reportedly come under attack recently. According to a news release, Amnesty International stated that their Hong Kong headquarters experienced a state-sponsored cyberattack tied to China. The attack occurred, or at least was detected, in March and caused the cybersecurity division to take immediate action in securing their network. Amnesty International also stated that it had notified every individual possibly affected by the attack, and in addition, is giving them detailed assistance on securing their information.
What led Amnesty International to lay blame at the feet of the Chinese government was the following information:
The initial findings reveal the attacks were perpetrated using tools and techniques associated with specific advanced persistent threat groups (APTs). 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 cyber-attack occurred at a time when Chinese authorities are hindering cooperation between international and domestic NGOs, and are continuing to target human rights activists, journalists, lawyers and academics both abroad and at home.
This attack is just one more example of why activists and journalists worldwide need to prioritize cybersecurity. Many do, and that is to be applauded, but the threat landscape is always shifting. A state-sponsored cyberattack is always bound to be the most powerful. Governments have a large bankroll to invest in the most cutting-edge technologies and brilliant black-hat hackers to launch cyber-warfare.
If you make powerful enemies, expect a powerful response.
Featured image: Amnesty International