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Area 1 Security Uncovers Cybersecurity Breach of European Diplomatic Network Initiated By Chinese Government
[December 19, 2018]

Area 1 Security Uncovers Cybersecurity Breach of European Diplomatic Network Initiated By Chinese Government

REDWOOD CITY, Calif., Dec. 19, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Area 1 Security today announced discovery of an ongoing cyber campaign that has gained access into the diplomatic correspondence network of the European Union.

Area 1 Security

Area 1 Security's active sensors and research team began observing technical artifacts of a cyber campaign directed at Intergovernmental Organizations, Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Ministries of Finance, as well as trade unions and think tanks. This attack had further breached and accessed a communications network used by the European Union to facilitate cooperation on urgent foreign policy matters.  This network, known as COREU, operates between the 28 EU countries, the Council, the EEAS and the Commission. It is a crucial but little-known instrument in the EU system of policymaking.

Area 1 has tied the activities to the Strategic Support Force (SSF) of the People's Liberation Army (PLA). They have been able to identify a consistent set of characteristics and chain of events that links together a larger campaign that includes targeting of the United Nations and the AFL-CIO, in addition to the accessing of diplomatic cables from the European Union's COREU network.

"Our mission is to eliminate phishing. Through the course of our normal business we often discover the origins and outcomes of cyber campaigns," said Oren Falkowitz, CEO of Area 1 Security.  "The cybersecurity doom narrative has become so embellished that we have lost the nerve to take action. Cybersecurity needs an optimistic all-out assault on the problem, that starts by seeing cyber attacks for what they are, routine assembly line operations, neither extraordinary or insurmountable to defeat," Falkowitz continued.

Cyber campaigns linked to China have served for many years as a catalyst for ational-security and cybersecurity experts to raise awareness and allocate resources to an issue historically relegated to the basements of organizations. After years of publicly censuring the PRC for cyber-based economic espionage, Washington and Beijing reached an agreement in 2015 to curtail the hacking of private companies for commercial gain.  

"Our report is not the first to expose a specific cyber campaign, nor will it have a direct impact on deterring the actors responsible. But it does show three consistent facts about cyber campaigns that make them unremarkable," said Blake Darche, Chief Security Officer of Area 1 Security. "1. Phishing remains the dominant method through which cyber actors gain access into computer networks 9 out of 10 times. 2. Cyber attacks are more assembly line than individual snowflakes. Very little about this or any other cyberattack is cutting edge computer science 3. Cyber actors continually use their imagination to find the weakest links in the digital chain, as we show here in attacking the MFA of Cyprus to gain access to the entire European Union diplomatic communications network."

As 2018 comes to a close, tensions between the two countries over hacking allegations are once again on the rise. "Cyber campaigns continue to be the essential tool for waging war, influencing global trade, theft of intellectual property and financial assets, espionage and other geopolitical effects with minimal resources or repercussions," Falkowitz said.

About Area 1 Security
Area 1 Security is the first to bring accountability to cybersecurity. Backed by top-tier investors, Area 1 Security is led by security, Artificial Intelligence, and data analytics experts who created a preemptive solution to stop phishing, the number one cause of cyber attacks. Area 1 Security works with organizations worldwide, including Fortune 500 banks, insurance, and tech companies, and healthcare providers to realign their cybersecurity posture for combating the most significant risks, protecting customer data, and stopping attacks before they happen. Area 1 Security is a recipient of Inc. Magazine's "2018 Inc.'s Best Workplaces" in America. To learn more about Area 1 Security, visit, join the conversation at @area1security or follow the blog for the latest industry news and insights on how to stop phishing.

Media contact:
Blake Schenerlein


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