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Human rights organization claims it was the target of a China-sponsored cyberattack

The Canadian branch of human rights organization Amnesty International says it was the target of a cyberattack it says was sponsored by the Chinese state.

In a statement posted on its website, Amnesty International Canada said the digital security breach was first detected on October 5, 2022, when suspicious activity was spotted on Amnesty’s IT infrastructure.

An investigation by forensic investigators and cybersecurity experts was immediately launched and steps were taken to protect the organization’s systems.

Amnesty International Canada said preliminary results of the investigation suggest that tools and techniques associated with specific advanced persistent threat groups were used in the cyberattack.

He said forensic experts from international cybersecurity firm Secureworks later established that the likely source of the security breach was a Chinese state-sponsored or state-mandated threat group, depending on the nature of the information. targeted as well as the tools and behaviors observed.

“As a global human rights organization, we are very aware that we may be the target of state-sponsored attempts to disrupt or monitor our work,” said Amnesty International Canada’s Secretary General. , Ketty Nivyabandi, in the press release. “These will not intimidate us and the safety and privacy of our activists, staff, donors and stakeholders remains our top priority.”

Nivyabandi added that the cyberattack speaks to the “increasingly dangerous context in which activists, journalists and civil society must navigate today”.

“Our work to investigate and expose these acts has never been more critical and relevant. We will continue to shine a light on human rights abuses wherever they occur and to expose governments’ use of digital surveillance to stifle human rights.”

The organization said at this stage there was no evidence that any donor or member data had been exposed.

In the statement, Amnesty International Canada said it “took swift and robust action to strengthen its digital security and restore online systems safely.” He added that law enforcement has been notified of the breach and will continue to work with security experts to mitigate potential future risks.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on December 6, 2022.

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