Vietnamese “state-aligned” hackers are targeting foreign automotive companies in attacks that appear to support the nation’s vehicle manufacturing goals, cybersecurity provider FireEye said.
FireEye, which designated the group as APT32 and dates its activities to 2014, said that the attacks accelerated early last month.
The hacking targeted companies in Southeast Asia and “the broader areas surrounding Vietnam,” FireEye senior manager Nick Carr said.
“Beginning in February, we see this large uptick based on our product and services visibility showing us a lot of activity targeting the automotive industry,” Carr said. “It is likely to support the Vietnamese government’s publicly stated domestic manufacturing goals for automobiles.”
The Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment.
After FireEye published a report detailing the Vietnamese-linked group’s activities in 2017, ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said that the government does not allow any form of cyberattacks against individuals or organizations.
The recent attacks do not appear to be aimed at acquiring intellectual property; rather, they seem to be looking for corporate operational information, Carr said.
“There are other ways to gain a competitive advantage,” he added.
The group has targeted security, technology infrastructure and consultancy companies, and been a threat to political activists, FireEye said in its 2017 report.
While attackers from China, Iran, Russia and North Korea remain the most active cyberespionage threats tracked by FireEye, groups such as APT32 represent a growing number of new countries involved in such activities, Carr said.
The attackers from Vietnam use phishing techniques — sending e-mails to induce recipients to reveal compromising information — and Web sites infected with malware, he said.
“They are very successful,” Carr said. “They are very creative.”
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