Almost immediately after Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 vanished more than 13 months ago, unknown hackers launched a series of invasive attacks against the Malaysian government, targeting other governments in the region as well. But could the massive cyber attack apparently aimed at spying on the search efforts for the missing plane be somehow offer a clue to the disappearance of the plane itself?
Since the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 inexplicably vanished on March 8 of last year without a trace of evidence as to the plane’s whereabouts or what caused it to vanish turning up since, a number of independent researchers have speculated that high tech hijackers could have seized control of the plane — either by infiltrating the electronics bay underneath the floor of the plane near the cockpit or even by remote control.
While there has been no public indication that the well-organized hackers who attacked Malaysia government servers on the days following the Flight MH370 disappearance might also have the capability to hack the plane itself, there does seem to be significant mystery surrounding the cyber-attacks and who was behind them.
The attacks targeted computer systems run by the Malaysian police and military. Authorities have blamed the attacks on a shadowy group they have dubbed “Naikon,” and the massive hack was revealed at a cyber security conference in Singapore a week ago.
In an address to the conference, Costin Raiu of the cybersecurity firm Kapersky Lab identified “Naikon” as “a cyber-criminal group extremely active in the Asia-Pacific region,” and declared, “Following the disappearance of MH370, we noticed a spike in the attacks by Naikon.”
The assault appeared to be a well-organized spying operation.
“Its purpose was to get intelligence from the countries which were involved in the search,” Raiu told the conference, according to the Free Malaysia Today news site. “They successfully targeted very high-profile institutions in several countries.”
But what Raiu did not know, or did not say, was whether or not the mysterious group was able to obtain sensitive inside information about Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 — or even more importantly, what the group planned to do with any intelligence that it obtained.
Perhaps most importantly, Raiu also offered no theories about who Naikon actually are, or who they might represent. For example, was another government behind the cyber-spying hacks?
One Flight MH370 researcher recently published his theory suggesting that Russia may have engineered the disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines plane.
Lending at least a degree of credence to the possibility that a high-tech hijack may have been behind the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 disappearance, the United States Government General Accounting Office issued a report last week warning that commercial airliners are, in fact, vulnerable to the threat of hackers, who could sabotage or even take control of the cutting-edge software that most newer planes rely upon to stay in the air and on course.
[Image: PBS NOVA Screen Capture]