U.N. networks breached
GENEVA (AP) — Sophisticated hackers infiltrated U.N. networks in Geneva and Vienna last year in an apparent espionage operation that top officials at the world body kept largely quiet. The hackers’ identity and the extent of the data they obtained are not known.
An internal confidential document from the United Nations, leaked to The New Humanitarian and seen by The Associated Press, says dozens of servers were compromised including at the U.N. human rights office, which collects sensitive data and has often been a lightning rod of criticism from autocratic governments for exposing rights abuses.
Everything indicates knowledge of the breach was closely held, a strategy that information security experts consider misguided because it only multiplies the risks of further data hemorrhaging.
“Staff at large, including me, were not informed,” said Geneva-based Ian Richards, president of the Staff Council at the United Nations. “All we received was an email (on Sept. 26) informing us about infrastructure maintenance work.” The council advocates for the welfare of employees of the world body.
Asked about the intrusion, one U.N. official told the AP it appeared “sophisticated” with the extent of damage unclear. The official, who spoke only on condition of anonymity to speak freely about the episode, said systems have since been reinforced.
In this June 18, 2014 file photo, flags fly outside the United Nations building in Vienna, Austria.