Chinese APT groups are targeting Linux servers

Research from Blackberry uncovers almost a decade of hacking from state-sponsored civilian contractors

Chinese-sponsored hackers have been targeting Linux servers in order to steal intellectual property, according to Blackberry researchers, and it's been happening for almost a decade.

A report from the Canadian company called 'Decade of the RATs' has revealed that five APT groups have been hacking into businesses via Linux servers, Windows systems and even Android mobiles.

The 'RATs' the report refers to is remote access trojans and the five groups have been using them to exploit the "always on, always available" nature of Linux servers by establishing a "beachhead" that can then be used for coordinated attacks.  

"As China forges its role as one of the great world powers, it continues to rely upon a blast furnace of cyber espionage operations in order to acquire foreign technologies and intellectual property, to better position itself against the global influence of competing international powers, and to control its own image both at home and abroad," the report states. 

According to the report, the five groups "acting in the interests of the Chinese government" have strategically targeted Linux servers because the OS is not a primary focus for enterprise security. It suggests that defensive coverage in this area is immature at best as endpoint protection products are either lack the capabilities to defend them or are "inadequately utilised".

Compromising Linux web servers in this way allows hackers to exfiltrate massive amounts of data that can be obscured within daily web traffic, according to the report. This both provides them with a chance to find valuable and sensitive data and also erases a layer of protection that corporate networks need. 

What's more, the groups are coordinating their attacks and are operating in a single domain, which the report suggests is rare. Although it doesn't name the groups specifically, it identifies them as civilian contractors and relations of the Winnti group. According to Kaspersky, the Winnti group has been active for several years but mostly focused on the online gaming industry. 

"This reflects a highly agile government/contractor ecosystem with few of the bureaucratic or legal hurdles that can be observed in Western nations with similar capabilities and provides a level of plausible deniability for the Chinese government," the report suggests. 

Featured Resources

Unlocking collaboration: Making software work better together

How to improve collaboration and agility with the right tech

Download now

Four steps to field service excellence

How to thrive in the experience economy

Download now

Six things a developer should know about Postgres

Why enterprises are choosing PostgreSQL

Download now

The path to CX excellence for B2B services

The four stages to thrive in the experience economy

Download now

Recommended

HackBoss malware is using Telegram to steal cryptocurrency from other hackers
cryptocurrencies

HackBoss malware is using Telegram to steal cryptocurrency from other hackers

16 Apr 2021
Russia launched over a million cyber attacks in three months
hacking

Russia launched over a million cyber attacks in three months

13 Apr 2021
Hackers leak data from dark web marketplace
cyber security

Hackers leak data from dark web marketplace

9 Apr 2021
Hackers are using fake messages to break into WhatsApp accounts
instant messaging (IM)

Hackers are using fake messages to break into WhatsApp accounts

8 Apr 2021

Most Popular

Microsoft is submerging servers in boiling liquid to prevent Teams outages
data centres

Microsoft is submerging servers in boiling liquid to prevent Teams outages

7 Apr 2021
University of Hertfordshire's entire IT system offline after cyber attack
cyber attacks

University of Hertfordshire's entire IT system offline after cyber attack

15 Apr 2021
NSA uncovers new "critical" flaws in Microsoft Exchange Server
servers

NSA uncovers new "critical" flaws in Microsoft Exchange Server

14 Apr 2021