European Cyber Security at the Mercy of Chinese Hackers

Europe is “Under the watchful eye of Chinese pirates”, writes Libération,which picks up on a Bloomberg feature report on computer security breaches. The American press agency reveals that a group of Chinese cyberspies – which has been tracked by an American collective (that includes academics, companies that have been targeted by Chinese espionage and computer security experts) – succeeded in infiltrating a large number of institutions and companies last year.

The group  linked to the Chinese military, which has been named “Byzantine Candor” by American secret services, notably managed to infiltrate European institutions, reports the French daily –

    At a critical moment in the euro crisis in July, a group of Chinese spies remotely infiltrated the computers of the European Council, not once but five times. Launching their attacks from China, the hackers stole data including email correspondence with Herman Van Rompuy [...] Along with the European Council, the networks of at least 20 European businesses have fallen victim to Byzantine Candor [...] According to Bloomberg, most of the breached corporate networks were characterised by the fact that they contained information on innovation that could be economically advantageous to Chinese firms.

Libération adds that a decade ago –

    … the usual targets for these kinds of attacks were American arms manufacturers [...] However, no one is safe today.

As a result, the drive to combat cyber-espionage is now a critical priority for Europe: notably in Spain, which, according to El País –

    … is one of the countries that has been worst affected by hacking attacks, with tens of thousands of incidents every year.

The Madrid daily explains that a new national cybersecurity centre of excellence, financed by the European Commission and headquartered at the Autonomous University of Madrid, will be inaugurated in September. In the wake of the establishment of similar centres in Montpellier (France) and Dublin (Ireland), it will be the third of its kind in the EU.

However, the daily regrets that one of the companies tasked with the creation of the centre, CFLabs, is directed by Matías Bevilacqua –

    … an IT expert who was arrested and charged in connection with purchase and sale of confidential data [...] and in particular sensitive information sourced from virtually all of the institutions of the Spanish state.

In conclusion El País wonders about the wisdom of appointing “a hacker to play a key role in such a sensitive project”.

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