In April, the US government admitted in an alert that hackers have been inside government systems for years, and it is likely they are still there. This group of malicious cyber hackers is known as APT6 and is believed to be ‘state sponsored,’ but the reality is that the US government has no idea. These expert cyber criminals have access to the most sensitive data held in government networks around the nation and they have also targeted countless corporate and private networks throughout the westernized world.
The alert shows that foreign government hackers are still successfully hacking and stealing data from US government’s servers, and it came just months after the US government revealed that a group of hackers, widely believed to be working for the Chinese government, had infiltrated the computer systems of the Office of Personnel Management for over a year. They stole highly sensitive data about several millions of government workers and even spies.
The hack apparently dates back to 2011, though it may be linked to attacks on the U.S. government’s computer infrastructure originating in 2008. The domains controlled by the hackers were “suspended” in late December 2015, but it’s unclear if the hackers have been pushed out or they are still sitting within those hacked networks.
“They Could be Anywhere and Everywhere…”
If these hackers were able to sit within the government systems for over 4 years without being caught, it’s a little unsettling to imagine what other systems they have managed to hack into. Michael Adams, an information security expert who served more than two decades in the US Special Operations Command explains, “Anybody who’s been in that network all this long, they could be anywhere and everywhere.” This alert shows that the US government still is not in control of what’s going on inside its most sensitive networks.
APT6 is “likely a nation-state sponsored group based in China which has been dormant for the past several years.” There isn’t much public literature about the group, other than a couple of old reports, but APT6, which stand for Advanced Persistent Threat 6, is a codename given to a group believed to be working for the Chinese government. It is assumed that there is likely an FBI investigation underway, but at this point, it’s unclear whether the FBI’s investigation will lead to any concrete result. But two years after the US government charged five Chinese military members for hacking US companies, it’s clear hackers haven’t given up attacking US targets.