U.N. net­works breached

Antelope Valley Press - - SECOND FRONT -

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.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

In this June 18, 2014 file photo, flags fly out­side the United Na­tions build­ing in Vi­enna, Austria.

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