Security researchers have discovered that Chinese computer hackers dangled the promise of nude photos of former French first lady Carla Bruni as bait to lure in targeted foreign ministries during a Group of 20 economic summit in Paris in 2011. And the scheme worked, for the most part.
According to a report published by computer security firm FireEye on Tuesday, cyberattackers homed in on the annual G-20 meeting of central bank governors and foreign ministries and breached senior officials’ high-priority computer networks via an email with the subject line “French First Lady nude photos!” The report also said the attack was not isolated and the hackers have been active since 2010.
The email contained malware code hidden in the link to the alleged photos. Once opened, the email was forwarded along to others.
“Almost everybody who received the email took the bait,” a government source in Paris told Australia’s The Daily Telegraph.
An anonymous source close to the investigation told The New York Times that five of the ministries attacked were from the Czech Republic, Portugal, Bulgaria, Latvia and Hungary.
However, investigators could not confirm the identity of the hackers or which specific files were breached.
“Beyond the fact they are Chinese, we don’t know who the attackers are or what their motivations might be,” Nart Villeneuve, a researcher for the FireEye report, told the Times.
If only the easily swayed foreign ministries had known nude photos of the former super model and songwriter have been circling the Web for years from past photo shoots. Sigh.
This isn’t the first instance of alleged hacking at a G-20 gathering. Just last month former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden leaked NSA documentsaccusing the U.S. and Canada of spying on top leaders during both the G-20 and G-8 summits in Toronto in 2010.