Vietnam ministry cyber-attack: confirmed

Thanh Nien News

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A screenshot of the English website of Vietnamese Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. A screenshot of the English website of Vietnamese Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

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The website of Vietnamese Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) was attacked recently, but its confidential information remains untouched, a senior official has said.
"This was not the first attack on the ministry's network," Nguyen Huu Chinh, director of the ministry’s Information Technology Department, told the media on Tuesday (June 24).  "We have resolved them all." 
Hackers attached a malware-infected word document to an email and sent it to ministry staff, Chinh said.
He said that after detecting the attacks, the IT department checked all systems and quarantined the targeted area to resolve the problem.
Chinh dismissed concerns about the hackers' ability to access confidential information about Vietnam's economy and national strategies, particularly in the East Sea (AKA South China Sea), newswire Vietnam+ reported.
On June 20, the Slovakian tech security firm ESET reported that it had detected a targeted attack against the ministry. 
The firm said it was unable to share any information about the perpetrators but showed how they had targeted the environment ministry's employees, and how the malware had been activated.
“Interest in the South China Sea is at an all-time high and data such as maps, surveys, studies and reports are likely to be of interest both to regional superpowers and to corporations operating in the area,” the firm was quotes as saying. 
According to ESET, the Vietnamese ministry relies on webmail and, as such, staff are unable to preview documents before downloading them.
The hackers designed the word document to drop an executable file named payload.exe into the computer as soon as it was opened, the company said.
Ngo Tuan Anh, deputy director of the Bach Khoa Antivirus Security Company (Bkav), which also does not provide anti-virus software to the environment ministry, said it is common for hackers to deliver malware through normal-looking file formats, adding that attacks are frequent among Vietnamese and other agencies.
"Bkav has recorded similar attacks and our customers are all well-protected. At the moment, Bkav has not received any request for support from the ministry, but we are willing to help if asked.”

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