THE CANADA TIBET COMMITTEE was targeted in an email attack that tried to infect its computers with a trojan as the Dalai Lama was on his way to Montreal.
The Committee's email account received two rogue messages containing malicious attachments sent in the name of the its executive director Dermod Travis. One included a statement he made back in August on the topic of cyber crime.
The distributed trojan was clearly designed for cyber spying and has the ability to log keystrokes. Security experts and companies refer to such pieces of malware as advanced persistent threats (APTs).
"Canadians would never tolerate their fellow citizens trying to spy on them. We wouldn't tolerate our government spying on us. And the Canadian government must not tolerate foreign citizens or governments harassing those working on lawful public events in Canada," said director Travis, according to The Tibet Post.
The Canada Tibet Committee is organizing the public talk on global citizenship that the Dalai Lama is expected to give in Montreal tomorrow. The organization claims that posters for the event have been vandalized in recent days.
The technique of impersonating an organization's management or a colleague in order to trick employees into opening malicious email attachments is commonly used in cyber espionage operations.
The number of such attacks has increased significantly this year, or at least more of them are being publicly reported. Back in February the press learned that hackers managed to infiltrate the computer networks of two Canadian government agencies, the Finance Department and the Treasury Board.
UK foreign secretary William Hague also announced earlier this year that three members of his staff received trojan-carrying emails that appeared to orginate from a colleague in the Foreign Office.
Most notably, hackers used this technique to break into RSA Security and steal information about the company's SecurID product. Data stolen during that security breach is believed to have been used to attack Lockheed Martin and several other US military contractors.
"It's not unusual to see this type of heinous activity prior to a visit by the Dalai Lama, but rarely to this intensity. Regrettably, there are those who don't seem to know that we live in a free country and the culprits behind these attacks need to hear loud and clear that we won't be intimidated by them," Travis concluded. µ