A series of cyberattacks that targeted more than 70 organizations in 14 countries throughout the past five years was uncovered by Internet security firm McAfee, Vanity Fair reported Tuesday.
The attacks, nicknamed “Operation Shady Rat” and discovered by McAfee Vice President of Threat Research Dmitri Alperovitch, are thought to be state-sponsored.
While the victims varied widely in size and location, Vanity Fair reports that the majority of them (49) were U.S.-based organizations and that defense contractors (13) were the most targeted. The Olympic committee, World Anti-doping Agency, the United Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are the only victims McAfee publicly named.
Hackers stole government secrets, email archives, legal contracts, negotiation plans for business activities and design schematics.
Alperovitch told Vanity Fair he believes there is a state actor involved because targets like the Olympic committee and political non-profits aren’t financially motivated. He did not name a country he believes responsible, but another security expert named China because the targets, none of them Chinese organizations, tended to be known areas of interest for the country.
“All the signs point to China,” James A. Lewis, director and senior fellow of the Technology and Public Policy Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Vanity Fair “Who else spies on Taiwan?”