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BMW, Hyundai Targeted by Vietnamese Cyberspies: Report

BMW and Hyundai have been targeted by a cyber-espionage group believed by many to be associated with the government of Vietnam, German broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk (BR) reported last week.

According to BR (article in German), hackers gained access to BMW systems in the spring of 2019, but the German carmaker decided to monitor the attackers’ activities and only took the impacted devices offline one week ago. There is no evidence that the hackers gained access to the company’s main data center in Munich and it’s unlikely that they obtained any sensitive information.

The attack reportedly involved a fake BMW Thailand website and the attackers leveraged Cobalt Strike, a popular tool used by red teams and penetration testers.

The same campaign also allegedly targeted South Korean carmaker Hyundai. There is less information about this attack, but it reportedly also involved a fake website.

SecurityWeek has reached out to both BMW and Hyundai and will update this article if the companies provide any information.

BR reported that the main suspect in the attacks on BMW and Hyundai is OceanLotus, a Vietnam-linked threat group also tracked as APT32.

OceanLotus has been around since at least 2012 and it’s highly sophisticated. Many experts believe it’s likely operating on behalf of the Vietnamese government and it has been known to target the automotive industry. OceanLotus is known to have used Cobalt Strike in its attacks.

OceanLotus was also the primary suspect in an attack on Toyota Australia, which the company disclosed in February 2019. Toyota Australia claimed the hackers had not accessed employee or customer data, but admitted that the attack caused some disruptions to IT systems.

Related: Millions of Toyota Customers in Japan Hit by Data Breach

Related: German Auto and Defense Firm Rheinmetall Says Malware Hit Several Plants

Related: Vietnam-Linked Hackers Use Atypical Executables to Avoid Detection

Related: "OceanLotus" Spies Use New Backdoor in Recent Attacks

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.