recommended reading

Hackers Successfully Baited Foreign Diplomats With Nude Carla Bruni Pics

Gero Breloer/AP

Chinese hackers have accessed the servers of several foreign ministries in Europe, using one of the oldest tricks in the book. Software company FireEye reported on Tuesday, that the breaches began in 2010 and may still be ongoing. Though FireEye did not call out specific nations, The New York Times identified Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, and Portugal as victims of the breach. 

None of the countries listed responded to the Times's request for comment, which makes sense, because whoever clicked on the malware links fell for a pretty embarrassing phish. In 2011, "The attackers sent their targets emails with a link that claimed to contain naked photos of Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, wife of former President Nicolas Sarkozy of France." 

Web safety pro tip No. 1: Don't click on sketchy, porny, emailed links from someone you've never met. Especially when using your government-issued work laptop.

More recently, those targeted received less racy, but just-as-painfully obvious links to malware, encoded in documents with titles like "US_military_options_in_Syria." Web safety pro tip #2: If it seems too good to be true, it is. If it seems like the U.S. government is sending you classified foreign policy information, it's not. 

FireEye has not linked the hackers directly to the Chinese government, but theTimes reports that China has a history of spying on foreign governments. Additionally, according to one FireEye researcher the most recent, Syria-themed attack specifically targeted G20 leaders during this year's summit. The annual meeting, which brings together finance ministers and central bank governors from 20 major economies, is ripe for snooping, apparently. Russia was also accused of spying on leaders, using even cruder means than China, according to the Associated Press

Italian newspapers reported early this week allegations that Russia tried to spy on participants of the G-20 summit by giving officials free equipment like USB sticks or mobile phone chargers which, once plugged in, would infect computers with spying software.

And last month, Edward Snowden-leaked documents accusing the U.S. and Canada of spying on leaders during the 2010 G20 meeting emerged. So, basically, if you ever spent more than five minutes thinking about the G20, some government is probably trying to break into your email right now.

Threatwatch Alert

Stolen laptop

Wireless Heart Monitor Maker to Pay $2.5M Settlement to HHS After Laptop Stolen

See threatwatch report


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.