Threatwatch

Web traffic from U.S., Germany, South Korea and Iran intercepted by Iceland?

Cyber espionage; Man-in-the-middle attack

Someone mysteriously hijacked data headed to government agencies, corporate offices and other recipients in the U.S. and elsewhere and redirected it to Belarus and Iceland, before sending it on its way to its legitimate destinations, Wired reports.

This happened repeatedly for several months earlier in 2013 before researchers noticed the oddity.

It was an attack on the so-called Border Gateway Protocol, or BGP, a move that allows hackers to fool routers on the worldwide internet traffic-routing system into re-directing data to a system they control. When they finally send files to their intended destination, neither the sender nor recipient is aware that their data has made an unscheduled stop.

"The attackers initiated the hijacks at least 38 times, grabbing traffic from about 1,500 individual IP blocks — sometimes for minutes, other times for days — and they did it in such a way that, researchers say, it couldn’t have been a mistake,” Wired reports.

The identity of the misfit or misfits remains a mystery. Although systems in Belarus and Iceland initiated the hijacks, it’s possible that those systems were hijacked by a third party that used them as a proxy for the attacks.

Analysts at Renesys wrote in a blog post about the hijacks: “It’s possible to drag specific internet traffic halfway around the world, inspect it, modify it if desired, and send it on its way. Who needs fiberoptic taps?”

No word from the NSA on that question.         

ThreatWatch is a regularly updated catalog of data breaches successfully striking every sector of the globe, as reported by journalists, researchers and the victims themselves.

sector

Government (U.S.); Government (Foreign)

reported

December 5, 2013

reported by

Wired

number affected

Unknown

location of breach

U.S., Germany, South Korea and Iran

perpetrators

Unknown

location of perpetrators

Unknown

date breach occurred

February 2013 through August 2013

date breach detected

Unknown