UPDATED 21:34 EST / DECEMBER 08 2019


Report: BMW and Hyundai targeted by APT32 hacking group

A threat group believed to have ties to the government of Vietnam is likely be behind the hacking of networks belonging to two car manufacturers: Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, better known as BMW, and Hyundai Motor Co.

According to a report in German media Dec. 5, the attacks are believed to have taken place sometime in spring and allegedly involved the APT32 group, also known as “Ocean Lotus.” Active since 2014, the group is thought to have previously targeted private sector industries as well as foreign governments, dissidents and journalists, with a strong focus on Southeast Asian countries.

The attack on BMW involved installing a penetration testing toolkit called Cobalt Strike onto targeted machines. The toolkit acts as a backdoor into the network, allowing for further access and hence data to be stolen.

BMW detected the attack early on, but instead of immediately shutting it down, it allowed the hackers to persist on its network while denying them access to confidential information, tracking their every move until finally cutting them off at the end of November.

Similar methodology is believed to have been used in the attack on Hyundai, although no further details were forthcoming.

APT32 is also believed to have been behind an attack on the global network of Toyota Motor Corp. in March that resulted in the theft of some 3.1 million customer records.

It’s likely the hacks are attempts at corporate espionage. Vietnam is a fast-growing maker of vehicles, primarily hosting various plants belonging to foreign companies. The country launched its first home-grown brand, VinFast, in 2017 and debuted its first vehicles a year later.

What’s strange is that BMW is a design partner with VinFast, begging the question: If the two companies are in a partnership, what would the motive for the hack be?

Regarding Toyota and Hyundai, the motive would be the theft of intellectual and design property to help VinFast, but even then, it’s odd behavior that given VinFast is trying to establish itself as a legitimate car company.

That said, ZDNet reported that experts have speculated that the Vietnamese government has taken a page out of China’s book and is using hacking groups to carry out economic espionage on foreign companies, stealing intellectual property and then using it for state-funded corporations.

Photo: Pixabay

Since you’re here …

Show your support for our mission with our one-click subscription to our YouTube channel (below). The more subscribers we have, the more YouTube will suggest relevant enterprise and emerging technology content to you. Thanks!

Support our mission:    >>>>>>  SUBSCRIBE NOW >>>>>>  to our YouTube channel.

… We’d also like to tell you about our mission and how you can help us fulfill it. SiliconANGLE Media Inc.’s business model is based on the intrinsic value of the content, not advertising. Unlike many online publications, we don’t have a paywall or run banner advertising, because we want to keep our journalism open, without influence or the need to chase traffic.The journalism, reporting and commentary on SiliconANGLE — along with live, unscripted video from our Silicon Valley studio and globe-trotting video teams at theCUBE — take a lot of hard work, time and money. Keeping the quality high requires the support of sponsors who are aligned with our vision of ad-free journalism content.

If you like the reporting, video interviews and other ad-free content here, please take a moment to check out a sample of the video content supported by our sponsors, tweet your support, and keep coming back to SiliconANGLE.