Thailand setting up cyber-defense division after hacks targeting Ministry of Defense, Prime Minister’s Office

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Thailand is setting up and recruiting hackers and engineers to safeguard the country’s digital infrastructure after persistent hacks targeting the country’s defense and leadership ministries throughout 2021.

According to several well placed sources in the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society and the Ministry of Defense, the government has been recruiting graduates in Computer Science and influential tech entrepreneurs over the last six months.

This was in response to attacks by a hacker group known as Threat Activity Group 16 [TAG 16] which targeted the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Defense, the Royal Thai Army, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

TAG 16, according to one cybersecurity expert, has close ties to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army linked group known in the community as Red Foxtrot.

“They haven’t only targeted Thailand but government websites and servers across Southeast Asia including those in Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia,” the experts aid on condition of anonymity.

According to the expert, government servers infected with TAG 16 code and malware, including known viruses such as FunnyDream and Chinoxy, continue to communicate with the hackers who are located in China.

“We don’t know who they are selling the information to, it could be to Beijing and this could be a state-sponsored activity or they could be selling it to third party buyers in the defense industry,” he said.

What is clear though is that Thailand, as are the rest of the countries affected by the hacking, are aware of the threat and have begun to increase their cybersecurity programs.

“The problem in Thailand is that the government are so far behind in their cybersecurity capabilities that it will take some time to catch up,” the expert added.

“That means in the meanwhile, the government servers are basically an open book.”


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