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UN concealed large scale cyberattack, staff records compromised

(Image credit: Image Credit: Brian Klug / Flickr)

Is the United Nations next in line to receive a hefty fine for a breach of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)? We may soon find out, because it reportedly experienced a “massive” data breach across multiple offices last summer.

The media is reporting a “likely state-sponsored” attack, which resulted in more than 400GB of data stolen from UN servers. The hackers allegedly abused a flaw in Microsoft's SharePoint and used it to inject unknown malware into UN systems.

The malware infected “dozens of servers” in Geneva and Vienna, which housed the data of 4,000 UN employees. The intergovernmental body kept the incident under wraps, saying it is yet to establish the motive behind the attack.

"The attack resulted in a compromise of core infrastructure components," a spokesperson for the UN told The New Humanitarian. "As the exact nature and scope of the incident could not be determined, [the UN] decided not to publicly disclose the breach."

According to Jake Williams, ex-US government hacker,  “the intrusion definitely looks like espionage”. He notes the hackers went out of their way to delete the logs and make sure nobody spotted their activities.

"It's as if someone were walking in the sand, and swept up their tracks with a broom afterward," an anonymous UN official told the publication. "There's not even a trace of a clean-up."