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Chinese hackers target dozens of universities in a bid to steal maritime military secrets

Chinese hackers target dozens of universities in a bid to steal maritime military secrets
  • The hackers targeted a total of 27 universities around the world to gain access to maritime military research.
  • The attack was performed using spear phishing emails.

More than two dozen universities in the US and across the globe were targeted in an elaborate scheme to steal research about maritime technology. The attack campaign was launched by a group of China-based hackers.

What happened - A cybersecurity firm iDefense uncovered that the hackers targeted a total of 27 universities around the world to gain access to maritime military research, The Verge reported. The attack was performed using spear phishing emails. These phishing emails appeared as if they came from partnered universities. Once opened, they unleashed malicious payloads which were later used to steal maritime technology secrets.

Universities affected - The universities that have been affected by the attack include the names of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Washington, and other colleges in Canada and Southeast Asia. The universities that were targeted in the attack either studied underwater tech or had faculty with relevant backgrounds. Some of these universities had links to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the US’ largest oceanographic research institute.

The research by iDefense is set to be published next week.

A serious threat for the maritime industry - The Department of Navy calls such attacks as serious cyber threats for the maritime industry.

“The Department of the Navy recognizes the serious nature of evolving cyber threats and continuously bolsters the department’s cybersecurity culture and awareness, along with our cyber defenses and information technology capabilities,” Navy Cmdr. J. Dorsey told Fox News.

Penn State, Duke University and the University of Hawaii are some of the other universities that have been targeted in the attack.

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