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China Blamed for MITM Attack on Outlook

19/01/2015 by Sharon Shahzad

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A leading rights group is again calling on technology giants including Apple, Microsoft and others to revoke trust for China’s certificate authority CCNC, after claiming that the authorities were responsible for a major Man in the Middle (MITM) attack on Outlook users over the weekend.

The attack, which lasted for about a day, targeted IMAP and SMTP for Outlook using a self-signed certificate, as per previous similar attacks against iCloud, Google and Yahoo, according to anti-censorship organization Greatfire.org.

However, this attack was aimed mainly at mobile users, who are more likely to click ‘continue’ if presented with a ‘cannot verify server identity’ warning message, as they might think it’s the result of a network problem, co-founder Charlie Smith explained via email.

Greatfire.org is once again pinning the attack on CCNC’s ruling body, the Cyberspace Administration of China – whose head, Lu Wei, reports directly into president Xi Jinping.

“This attack comes within a month of the complete blocking of Gmail (which is still entirely inaccessible). Because of the similarity between this attack and recent MITM attacks in China (on Google, Yahoo and Apple), we once again suspect that Lu Wei and the Cyberspace Administration of China have orchestrated this attack or have willingly allowed the attack to happen,” Greatfire explained in a blog post.

“If our accusation is correct, this new attack signals that the Chinese authorities are intent on further cracking down on communication methods that they cannot readily monitor.”

Like the other services which were hit with MITM attacks recently, Outlook uses HTTPS, meaning a cyber-attack like this is one of the few options available to China to intercept or block communications.

Greatfire.org believes the authorities are currently testing their MITM capabilities, which accounts for the relatively short duration of the attack.

“The authorities may also be gauging user response. By keeping track of how many users ignore the certificate warnings, the authorities will be able to determine the effectiveness of this type of attack,” it added.

This article has been extracted from http://www.infosecurity-magazine.com, please click on this link to read the article in full http://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/news/china-blamed-for-mitm-attack-on/

Montash is a multi-award winning global technology recruitment business. Specialising in permanent and contract positions across mid-senior appointments across a wide range of industry sectors and IT functions, including:

ERP Recruitment, BI & Data Recruitment, Information Security Recruitment, IT Architecture & Strategy Recruitment , Energy Technology Recruitment, Demand IT and Business Engagement Recruitment, Digital and E-commerce Recruitment, Leadership Talent, Infrastructure and Service Delivery Recruitment, Project and Programme Delivery Recruitment.

Montash is headquartered in Old Street, London, in the heart of the technology hub. Montash has completed assignments in over 30 countries and has appointed technical professionals from board level to senior and mid management in permanent and contract roles.

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