Most Targeted Attacks on Senior Officials Come from China

By: Chris Crum - March 25, 2010

Symantec has a released a new report looking at the nature of industrial espionage and targeted attacks, a big issue right now, considering the whole Google/China situation. A representative for the firm tells WebPronews, "Further analysis of targeted attacks shows that the top five targeted roles are senior officials (VPs, Directors) and the individuals that receive the most targeted malware are responsible for foreign trade and defense policy, especially in relation to Asian countries."

The attacks frequently come from malicious emails sent in small volumes aimed at gaining access to sensitive corporate data. The report suggests that the majority of targeted malware sent this month originated in China. "While most of the emails containing targeted malware are sent from mail servers in the United States, analysis of the actual sender’s location shows that most targeted attacks come from China (28.2 percent), followed by Romania (21.1 percent) and the United States (13.8 percent)," Symantec says.

Paul Wood, Senior Analyst with Messagelabs IntelligenceLocations can be deceiving. "When considering the true location of the sender rather than the location of the email server, fewer attacks are actually sent from North America than it would at first seem," says Paul Wood, Senior Analyst for Symantec’s MessageLabs Intelligence. "A large proportion of targeted attacks are sent from legitimate webmail accounts which are located in the US and therefore, the IP address of the sending mail server is not a useful indicator of the true origin of the attack. Analysis of the sender’s IP address, rather than the IP address of the email server reveals the true source of these targeted attacks."

The most common file types attached to the malicious emails are .XLS and .DOC, but the most dangerous file type, according to Symantec, is an encrypted .RAR. .ZIPs and .PDFs are also common.

Chris Crum

About the Author

Chris CrumChris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.

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  • James

    I am not much of an intelligence officer.

    But what about the attacks on children with Chat Roulette and Facebook?

    Senior officials can take care of themselves. I mean if they choose an insecure commercial platform as opposed to a secure military network. Well… whose fault is that?

    Children… I mean I would have some if I didn’t think they would grow up to be 14 year old porn stars on Google Search…

  • Hmm…

    James, those risks have always been there. You don’t have kids, so why worry about it? Let parents do the parenting, and childless people like ourselves focus on our lives.

    Way to post a completely unrelated comment that ISN’T spam, by the way.

  • James


    Well what do you want me to say? The article opens with Google/China and then leads into attacks on senior officials as if Google/China and senior officials are somehow related.

    Senior officials would be crazy in my books to store sensitive government information which they do not want to be known in commercial platforms like Facebook/Gmail/ or MySpace for that matter.

    If they are getting attacked. It has nothing to do with Google… You might think I’m spamming because I’m quick to bleed into people with GOOG fixation…

    People have been getting attacked for years. Nothing new… Like you say… just because it’s old news, let’s not focus on it… it will go away and everything will get better if for the love of god we just win a free speech victory with our favorite corporation of choice?

    No risk… Cheer from the sidelines… Go GOOG go!!! I’m afraid of 2 billion china men and I want you to leiberate them all on behalf of my best self interests. It’s the core of my being.

    No offense to you, or to Google, or to 2 billion china men.

    Google China (or attacks on people) are nothing new… I mean there isn’t a doubt in my mind that the U.S.A, Germany, China, Russia and just about every other country in existence has intelligence agencies which snoop on other countries…