Ketty Nivyabandi, secretary-general of Amnesty International in Canada, said the attack sought a system of organizations specifically and exclusively related to China and Hong Kong, as well as several prominent Chinese dissident activists.
The attack was first detected on October 5, prompting Amnesty International to hire forensic investigators and cybersecurity experts to investigate.
US cybersecurity firm Secureworks said there was no attempt to secure a ransom for the attack.
“A Chinese state-sponsored or commissioned group” was likely behind the attack due to the nature of the search, level of sophistication and use of specialized tools characteristic of China-sponsored hackers, Secureworks said.
Ketty Nivyabandi encouraged activists and journalists to update their cyber security protocols.
“As an organization that advocates for human rights globally, we are acutely aware that we may be subject to state-sponsored attempts to interfere with or monitor our work. This will not intimidate us and the safety and privacy of activists, staff, donors and other stakeholders remains our top priority,” said Nivyabandi.
Amnesty International is one such organization that supports human rights activists and journalists who have been targeted by state hackers. This includes confirmed cases of activists’ and journalists’ phones infected with Pegasus spyware, which turns devices into listening devices in real time, in addition to copying their content.
In August, cybersecurity firm Recorded Future listed Amnesty among the organizations targeted by Chinese hackers through a password theft scheme.
The company says this is especially concerning given the Chinese state’s “violations of human rights against Uighurs, Tibetans and other ethnic and religious minority groups”.
Amnesty accuses China of maintaining a system of concentration camps that housed at least one million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities, experts estimate.
China, which describes the camps as training and vocational education centers to fight extremism, says the camps have been closed, without ever publicly saying how many people were in the camps.
By Impala News / The day after tomorrow
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