Internet security experts have discovered a European cybercrime network which has been functioning for over a decade and preying on hundreds of “banks, governments, research labs, critical infrastructure facilities and more“, according to a recent article published on the Wired UK website. The article indicates that this “spear phishing” operation has infiltrated organizations in Switzerland, Austria and Germany for as long as 12 years.
Reports say that the “Israel-based” security firms Cybertinel and Elite Cyber Solutions “discovered and scuppered” the band of attackers who orchestrated this long running hack referred to as “The Harkonnen Operation” which “achieved this with the help of 833 front companies registered in the UK“, according to the article. Executives at Elite Cyber Solutions advised that this operation was possible because of “the UK’s relatively tolerant requirements for purchasing SSL security certificates.”
Jonathan Gad, a chief executive at Elite Cyber Solutions, was quoted in the article to say, “The German attackers behind the network then had total control over the targeted computers and were able to carry out their espionage undisturbed for many years.” Gad noted in the article that because this network had carried out this course of events for so many years “security companies expect to discover infiltration across other nations in Europe” along with others inside the United Kingdom. In the article, Gad went on to say, “At this point, we are aware of the extent of the ‘Harkonnen Operation’, but the damage to the organizations who have been victims in terms of loss of valuable data, income or the exposure of information related to employees and customers is immeasurable.”