Council on Foreign Relations Hacked

According to the Washington Free Beacon, “private computer-security forensic specialists” are reporting that the Web site for the Council on Foreign Relations was hit by a drive-by attack that was detected earlier this week.

“The specialists, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the attack involved penetrating the computer server that operates the New York City-based CFR’s website and then using the pirated computer system to attack CFR members and others who visited … the site,” writes the Beacon’s Bill Gertz. “The activity ended on Thursday and the specialists believe the attackers either removed their malicious software to prevent further details of the attack from being discovered, or CFR was able to isolate the software and remove it. The FBI was notified of the attack and is said to be investigating.”

“The malware was apparently pushed onto the systems of visitors via a vulnerability in Internet Explorer,” writes Softpedia’s Eduard Kovacs. “The malicious software planted on the server used Mandarin Chinese language, experts from a private security firm told the Free Beacon. Also, it appears that the attack targeted only people or intelligence related to China because the malware was configured to infect only visitors who had set their browsers to support Chinese language characters.”

In a statement e-mailed to the Beacon, CFR spokesman David Mikhail apparently confirmed the attack. “The Council on Foreign Relations’ Web site security team is aware of the issue and is currently investigating the situation,” he wrote. “We are also working to mitigate the possibility for future events of this sort.”

Jeff Goldman
Jeff Goldman has been a technology journalist for more than 20 years and an eSecurity Planet contributor since 2009.

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