Chinese state-affiliated hackers infiltrate UN civil aviation body’s servers

In November 2016, Chinese state-affiliated hacker group Panda Emissary, also known as APT27, launched a cyberattack against the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a UN agency responsible for standard setting in the global civilian aviation industry based in Montreal, Canada. The hackers compromised ICAO’s servers and website, and used them as a springboard to access employee data and other information at other organizations. However, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation revealed in 2019 that ICAO, headed by Secretary General Fang Liu, a former Chinese government official, obstructed investigations into the attack. James Wan, ICAO’s deputy director of information management and general administration, dismissed findings from New York-based UN IT analysts and, in December 2016, the ICT team he headed was formally accused of “acting with intent to disguise the source, nature and impact of a breach of the ICAO network.” According to Canadian media, the team was escorted out of the ICAO building on December 21, 2016 before being re-instated six weeks later after “pressure from higher up the United Nations chain.” According to the same media report, ICAO Secretary General Fang Liu “shelved internal recommendations to investigate the four ICT team members and James Wan.”

About This Incident

Incident Metadata

Date: 1 November, 2016
Country: Canada