A recent survey revealed that approximately 87% of small businesses experienced a cyber security breach in 2012 alone, and the number of attempted attacks is increasing. But one group of cyber criminals with alleged links to Russia had a much bigger target in mind.
Norway’s foreign ministry, army, and a number of the nation’s other institutions were targeted in a serious cyber attack at the beginning of February. According to Norwegian intelligence reports, a group with suspected links to Russia was allegedly responsible for carrying out the attack.
The group, known as APT 29, was called out by Oslo and has already faced accusations of interfering with the U.S. Presidential election. Arne Christian Haugstoyl, an official with Norway’s intelligence service, told television channel TV2 that as many as nine e-mail accounts were singled out “in an attempt at what is called spear phishing, in other words, malicious emails.”
Haugstoyl explained that it’s difficult to ascertain the end goal of the attack, but APT 29 has consistently been described as a group “with links to the Russian authorities.” He added that Norway was notified of the attack not from an internal source, but from an allied country.
The attack came at a point when Donald Trump had just eased a set of sanctions against Russia implemented by the Obama administration. Earlier in the month, the U.S. Treasury Department allowed some cyber-security sales to go to the Russian Federal Security Service. This is the same organization that was accused by U.S. Intelligence of interfering with the electoral process.
While Trump has suggested that all Russian sanctions should be lifted if America sees “some really great things” from the country, Norway is still viewing Russia as a serious security threat.
In addition to the PST and the army, the nation’s radiation protection agency, a school, and the parliamentary group of the Labor party were also targeted in the cyber attack. It has yet to be determined whether APT 29 is solely responsible for the attack.