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Amnesty International Canada Reports Cyber Attack Breach from Chinese Threat Actor

Amnesty International Canada was the target of a data breach recently, which cyber security experts believed originated from China, and it has been suggested in cybercrime reports by investigators that Beijing officials backed these attacks.

The data breach was detected on October 5, and it is believed that the hackers were trying to obtain information about Amnesty International’s contacts.

The Cyber Security Attack Involved Surveillance of Amnesty International’s System

UK-based cyber security firm SecureWorks stated in their investigation report that the data breach appeared to be the work of an APT (Advanced Persistent Threat group.) The forensic security firm also described how the attack involved the hackers establishing covert surveillance of Amnesty International’s network operating system.

During the attack, it appeared that the threat actors were targeting a list of the organization’s contacts and attempting to monitor its plans.

It is thought the Hacker Group may be Affiliated with the Chinese Government.

This cyber security news follows the downturn of relations between China and Canada over the past few years. And SecureWorks has stated in their report that they felt confident that the hackers responsible for the attacks were acting on behalf of the government in Beijing.

The security report stated that the tools and behaviours of the hackers, as well as the information, which was targeted, were “consistent with those associated with Chinese cyberespionage threat groups.”

However, SecureWorks stated in their report that they don’t believe that the attack is motivated by the current troubled nature of Canada and China relations and is more about the work Amnesty engages in.

The director of intelligence for SecureWorks, Mike McLellan, informed CBC news that China’s current methods of operation include the targeting of human rights groups. Mr McLellan explained, “organizations like Amnesty are interesting to China because of the people they work with, the work they do.”

The Nature of Amnesty’s Work Can Make Them a Target for Hackers and Data Breaches

The secretary general of Amnesty International Canada, Ketty Nivyabandi, has stated that she is well aware that the nature of the organization’s human rights work can make it a target for certain parties and governments.

“As an organization advocating for human rights globally, we are very aware that we may be the target of state-sponsored attempts to disrupt or surveil our work,” Nivyabandi stated. She also took the opportunity to assure Amnesty staff, donors, and stakeholders that the security of their personal information is of the “utmost priority.”

The international human rights organization will continue to work to ensure that they are monitoring cybercrime threats. But have stated they are not intimidated by the motives behind this latest data breach.

Ketty Nivyabandi emphasized that Amnesty International will continue with its work uncowed. “We will continue to shine a light on human rights violations wherever they occur and to denounce the use of digital surveillance by governments to stifle human rights.”

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