EU diplomatic cables hacked
Hackers have breached the European Union’s diplomatic communications network for years, downloading thousands of messages that raise fears about Donald Trump, derail struggles over Russia and China and anxiety that Iran could revive its nuclear weapons programme.
Much of the contents of the cables confirmed publicly stated worries from the EU about Trump and the undermining of the world’s diplomatic order. But the security breach in itself will be a major concern.
One cable revealed that European diplomats described the summer meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki as “successful (at least for Putin)”.
At a press conference after the Finnish meeting, Trump appeared to go off the prepared script and seemed to offer the Kremlin the opportunity to quiz US intelligence staff in exchange for US interrogation of Russians indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating alleged connections between the 2016 Trump presidential campaign and Putin’s team.
In July, a memo said White House staff had reassured Brussels that Trump’s proclamation was being “nipped down”.
A July 16 meeting with President Xi Jinping of China led to a message comparing Trump’s bullying of China to “no-rules freestyle boxing”.
The hackers for three years used a technique employed by China’s armed forces where data was copied from the secure network and posted to a public website, according to Area 1, the security firm that uncovered the breach.
The hackers also infiltrated the United Nations and ministries of foreign affairs and finance across the world. Attacks focused on issues surrounding the negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal that excluded China.
More than 100 organisations and bodies were targeted years ago but were unaware until the notification this week by Area 1, which was founded by three former National Security Agency members.
European diplomats warned on February 8 that Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, had been transformed into a “hot-zone where nuclear warheads might have already been deployed”. The US and EU publicly deny having seen evidence of nuclear warheads being stationed in Crimea.
During their private meeting in July with Xi, the Chinese president purportedly vowed that he “would not submit to bullying” from Trump, “even if a trade war hurt everybody”. “China was not a backward country anymore,” Xi reportedly said.
European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis, a former prime minister of Latvia, said every “institution or country” was vulnerable to such attacks but he declined to comment further.
Has the Kremlin deployed nuclear weapons on Crimea? Picture credit: Wikimedia