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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Cyber attack hits big companies

Norway’s national security authority and police have uncovered what they’re calling a “very serious” intrusion into the computer systems of several Norwegian companies. It’s already been billed as the largest computer spying case in Norway.

National security unit NSM (Nasjonal sikkerhetsmyndighet) and police intelligence unit PST (Politiets sikkerhetstjeneste) believe the goal of the computer spies is to gather information on secret contracts, industrial drawings, user names and passwords, according to newspaper Aftenposten. The spying attempts have been carried out over a lengthy period and are continuing, warn officials at NSM.

Defense, oil and energy targets
The companies attacked are active in the defense, oil and energy industries. “The last reported incident occurred this month and we’re still working on it,” Eiliv Ofigsbø of NSM and NorCERT told Aftenposten.

The data intrusions generally come in the form of e-mail with an attachement sent to top executives and other key personnel. If the recipient double clicks on the attachment, it installs a spying program on their machines that then forwards sensitive data overseas.

It allows those behind it to steal sensitive contract information, strategy documents and plans, customer lists and other information through the programs designed to get around anti-virus programs.

Striking similarities
Officials at NSM and NorCERT fear many other companies may have been infected by the spy programs without realizing it. In the cases they’ve investigated, NorCERT have found similarities that lead them to believe the same data spies are behind the attacks.

“The attacks are, in method and technology, very advanced,” Ofigsbø told Aftenposten. “We were surprised when we began with an analysis of several different attacks and discovered the similarities among them.”

Neither PST nor NSM would identify the companies attacked or who they suspect is behind the attacks. The companies themselves fear the bad publicity that could arise if they admit that industrial secrets have gone astray.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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