Hackers compromise Red Cross earthquake relief site

Chinese hackers siphon money off aid givers

Hurricane Katrina proved a fertile ground for fraudsters to scam money off those willing to help the needy. Now the China earthquake has bred a new variant of the morally reprehensible, with donated funds being siphoned off one charity site.

Unfortunately for victims of the recent Sichuan earthquake, this is exactly what appears to have happened to the Chinese branch of the Red Cross. From the reports, it appears that a Chinese hacker or group of hackers was able to gain access to the portion of the Red Cross site that linked to the accounts being used to collect donations from the public. In order to siphon some of these funds off for themselves, six fraudulent accounts at four different banks were opened under three different names.

Because reports are only just emerging, it is too early to determine how long the redirection was in place and how much money was captured from prospective donors. After a number of recent reports of China-based hackers targeting sites and systems outside of China it is a little surprising to see reporting emerge of a Chinese hacker attacking a Chinese target, especially such a high profile target. It is possible that more effort than usual will be expended in finding the origin of the attack and taking appropriate action against them, which is considered probable given the public presence that the Chinese government is displaying with its earthquake response. It is possible that it will take a very harsh approach to any corrective action.

InfoSec professionals who track and observe botnet management and those who deconstruct attack attempts have seen for some time that many of the activities that can be traced to a Chinese origin can be traced back to IPs originating from internal territories in China. It is a little too early to tell, but it is possible that the recent earthquake will have an observable effect on the level of attacks originating from China, at least until other nodes are established to manage existing botnets or attacks.

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Carl Jongsma

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