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EU communications hacked for years; thousands of diplomatic documents compromised: Report

December 19, 2018

A European Union communication system was illegally accessed for years, allowing the hackers to copy thousands of diplomatic documents, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Area 1, the U.S. cybersecurity firm that discovered the hack, said the techniques used were similar to the ones used by China’s People’s Liberation Army.

Blake Darche, an Area 1 expert, told The Times that “there is no doubt” the hack is tied to the Chinese government.

The hackers gained access with a phishing campaign targeting diplomats in Cyprus, which gave them access to the entire EU system.

Some of the instructions occurred years ago, but those targeted didn’t know until they were notified by Area 1.

“People talk about sophisticated hackers, but there was nothing really sophisticated about this,” Oren Falkowitz, the chief executive of Area 1, told The Times.

The hacked communications included some standard reports but also analysis of private meetings between world leaders.

Reports about Russia’s aggressive activity in Ukraine and President Trump’s unpredictable strategy on the world stage were among the issues detailed in cables published by The Times.

The hackers also targeted other finance and foreign affair agencies across the globe, as well as the United Nations and the AFL-CIO.

The EU secretariat told The Times that it is “aware of allegations regarding a potential leak of sensitive information and is actively investigating the issue.”

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