In its latest research, Trend Micro names the Philippine military as one of the targets of Operation Tropic Trooper, an advanced persistent threat campaign that targets key governments and industries to compromise critical data.
Active since 2012, Operation Tropic Trooper is a hacker activity that targets key organizations in both Taiwan and the Philippines. The activity uses spear-phishing emails that are sent to targeted entities. These emails contain malicious files with exploits that are designed for old Microsoft Office vulnerabilities. Once the user opens any of the attachments, an image file will be downloaded with an embedded piece of malicious code. This tactic is called steganography, which cybercriminals do to avoid antimalware and network perimeter detection.
Aside from the Philippine military, Operation Tropic Trooper has targeted key organizations in Asia such as the Taiwanese government. Throughout March to May 2015, Trend Micro determined that 62% of the Tropic Trooper-related malware infections targeted Taiwanese organizations while the remaining 38% zoned in on Philippine entities.
“Operation Tropic Trooper was seen to have targeted the Philippine military, which is alarming. Security must be of paramount priority for the government to avoid unwanted repercussions to critical data, government services, and worst, to the peace of communities,” said Paul Oliveria, Security Focus Lead, Trend Micro Philippines. “In this era of Internet of Things, decision-makers should largely consider putting investments to security technologies. While the investment may be demanding, the cost that comes during troubleshooting and restoration is more expensive. Being proactive is winning half of the battle.”