Author Topic: Vietnam People's Army Cyberspace Operations Command  (Read 3066 times)


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Vietnam People's Army Cyberspace Operations Command
« on: June 11, 2021, 06:16:30 PM »

Vietnam unveils 10,000-strong cyber unit to combat 'wrong views'
December 26, 2017
HANOI (Reuters) - Vietnam has unveiled a new, 10,000-strong military cyber warfare unit to counter “wrong” views on the Internet, media reported, amid a widening crackdown on critics of the one-party state.

The cyber unit, named Force 47, is already in operation in several sectors, Tuoi Tre newspaper quoted Lieutenant General Nguyen Trong Nghia, deputy head of the military’s political department, as saying at a conference of the Central Propaganda Department on Monday in the commercial hub of Ho Chi Minh City.

“In every hour, minute, and second we must be ready to fight proactively against the wrong views,” the paper quoted the general as saying.

Communist-ruled Vietnam has stepped up attempts to tame the internet, calling for closer watch over social networks and for the removal of content that it deems offensive, but there has been little sign of it silencing criticism when the companies providing the platforms are global.

Its neighbor China, in contrast, allows only local internet companies operating under strict rules.

The number of staff compares with the 6,000 reportedly employed by North Korea. However, the general’s comments suggest its force may be focused largely on domestic internet users whereas North Korea is internationally focused because the internet is not available to the public at large.

In August, Vietnam’s president said the country needed to pay greater attention to controlling “news sites and blogs with bad and dangerous content”.

Vietnam, one of the top 10 countries for Facebook users by numbers, has also drafted an internet security bill asking for local placement of Facebook and Google servers, but the bill has been the subject of heated debate at the National Assembly and is still pending assembly approval.

Cyber security firm FireEye Inc FEYE.O said Vietnam had "built up considerable cyber espionage capabilities in a region with relatively weak defenses".

“Vietnam is certainly not alone. FireEye has observed a proliferation in offensive capabilities ... This proliferation has implications for many parties, including governments, journalists, activists and even multinational firms,” a spokesman at FireEye, who requested anonymity, told Reuters.

“Cyber espionage is increasingly attractive to nation states, in part because it can provide access to a significant amount of information with a modest investment, plausible deniability and limited risk,” he added.

Vietnam denies such charges.

Vietnam has in recent months stepped up measures to silence critics. A court last month jailed a blogger for seven years for “conducting propaganda against the state”.

In a separate, similar case last month, a court upheld a 10-year jail sentence for a prominent blogger.

« Last Edit: June 11, 2021, 06:44:35 PM by girder »


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Re: Vietnam People's Army Cyberspace Operations branch
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2021, 06:18:59 PM »
The Truth About Vietnam’s New Military Cyber Unit
By Nguyen The Phuong  January 10, 2018

Recent commentary following the official revelation of the “Task Force 47 cyber unit” by the Vietnam People’s Army (VPA) has sparked fierce debate and criticism of late not only internationally, but domestically as well.

The arguments advanced so far have been predictable: that the task force is Vietnam’s new weapon against online dissent, and that censorship and a less tolerant attitude toward different opinions could also have consequences to future economic growth.

However, much less attention has been paid to the actual organization of this force, and more importantly, what the ruling Vietnam Communist Party (VCP) perceives as its struggle against what is deemed as “peaceful revolution” in the age of social media. Given the attention being paid to the institution, it is worth closely examining this angle.

Task Force 47, as it is envisioned, in fact is only comprised of purely military officials and military personnel who are already part of the armed forces. They are mostly trained in propaganda and equipped with skills to counter what the regime normally dubs as elements of “peaceful revolution” on the Internet, at the time when influencers are using online channels in widespread fashion in today’s Vietnam as is the case in other countries as well.

“Peaceful revolution,” as the VCP sees it, is a strategy to infiltrate and subvert the socialist state by spreading Western political ideas and lifestyles, inciting discontent, and encouraging groups to challenge the Party’s leadership. A very important part of this theory of peaceful revolution is the idea of “self-conversion,” meaning part of the ruling elites or party officials could themselves adhere to alien ideas without being forced by any countries or organization.

This task force also has no concrete organizational or physical structure, and as conceived so far, its organization is more informal and flexible based on particular missions. The number 47 is also simply a codename rather than suggesting a particular numerical or unit designation organized with a high degree of centralized control.

Rather, depending on the scale and scope of any particular missions, members of this force (ranging from around 5,000 to 10,000 people) would engage in countering perceived “wrongful opinions” in their own manner. There is minimal or even no command and control (C2) in some cases because members of the task force are given the rights to operate independently and actively in the Internet. The VPA can still maintain order and ideological discipline of this force (and of course provide general guidelines) through its unique network of political commissars, which are deployed down to the level of company.

In other words, members of Task Force 47 would execute their daily formal tasks and missions, including training, studying, and interacting with specific audiences, according to their formal code of conduct while at the same time becoming internet polemicists when required. This type of flexible C2 mechanism enables members of the task force to be exempt from normally strict procedures within the VPA’s traditional networks.

There are several ways through which Task Force 47 would look to fulfill its objectives. The most obvious method is to make use of the most famous social media network in Vietnam: Facebook. Many Facebook pages have in fact already been created in support of the military interests or with at least some kind of sponsorship and level of management from the military or military personnel (both current and retired). Whenever certain incidents happen, these Facebook pages assertively defend government policies or fiercely attack opponents. Considering that nearly half of Vietnam’s population are currently using Facebook (and the number is still rising), and seeing that many dissidents and anti-regime forces are also using Facebook as a platform to promote their own agendas, the tactic of swarming the web is not that surprising.

What’s Behind Vietnam’s New Military Cyber Command?
By Prashanth Parameswaran   January 12, 2018

On Monday, Vietnam officially announced what the government characterized as a designated cyberspace operations command. The development was just the latest in a series of moves we have seen from the Southeast Asian state as it seeks to boost its capabilities to respond to growing challenges in the cyber realm.

Vietnamese officials have repeatedly stressed that a confluence of several trends, including the increasing number of Vietnamese going online and the emphasis on the fourth industrial revolution, presents opportunities but also major challenges for Hanoi, especially in the cyber realm where opponents can use various means to sabotage the regime. Not unlike some of its other Asian neighbors, the Vietnamese government has come to recognize that cyber is a critical fifth combat area for the country to master, following land, water, air, and space.

As a result, Vietnam’s cyber challenge has been elevated to a top priority and the government has been mulling several measures across the board over the past few years, including new legislation, boosting collaboration with other countries to help develop its own capabilities, exerting greater control and regulation of social media networks, and developing its own cyber defenses.


On Monday, Vietnam officially announced the creation of the “Cyberspace Operations Command.” The announcement came at a ceremony in Hanoi that was attended by top officials, including Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Defense Minister Ngo Xuan Lich, and Deputy Defense Minister Phan Van Giang.

According to the defense ministry, the Cyperspace Operations Command, which would be directly under the Ministry of National Defense (MND), would be the institution responsible for helping implement state-led efforts to protect national sovereignty in cyberspace as well as manage information technology security within the Vietnamese People’s Army (VPA). In his remarks at the ceremony, Phuc framed the decision in the context of the country’s broader challenge, noting both the reality that cyberspace was critical not only for defense, but other areas like foreign affairs and economic development, as well as the need to study new cyber tactics and to invest in better personnel.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2021, 06:22:49 PM by girder »


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Re: Vietnam People's Army Cyberspace Operations branch
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2021, 06:30:48 PM »
Cyber warfare in Vietnam
Jason Thomas   4 October 2019

Vietnam’s growing reputation for cyber espionage has seen cybersecurity firms accuse the country’s state-sanctioned hackers of being responsible for attacks on everything from Toyota to the ASEAN Secretariat.

While China, Russia, Iran and North Korea have long been the world’s most active state-sanctioned cyber espionage players, Vietnam is increasingly being implicated for similar activities.

Vietnam was the fourth biggest source of credential stuffing last year – a sophisticated strike where hackers use specialised software to launch multiple automatic attempts to log into a website or app using stolen usernames and passwords – according to cloud services provider Akamai.

Responsible for some of the most notorious advanced cyber threats in Asia, the APT32 group is believed to be working on behalf of the Vietnamese government.

In 2017, cybersecurity company Volexity reported that APT32 had hacked ASEAN’s website during its annual summit, with the same group responsible for compromising websites of ministries or government agencies in Cambodia, Lao PDR and the Philippines.

In a June report titled ‘The rising Vietnamese Cybercriminal Landscape’, threat intelligence company IntSights agreed that APT32 targets foreign governments, businesses and dissidents for financial gain and to equip the regime with intelligence on its adversaries.

APT32 has been blamed for attacks against Vietnamese and Cambodian media outlets last year and was also credited with attacks on numerous automotive manufacturers ahead of VinFast’s – Vietnam’s first domestic auto company – planned debut.

Cybersecurity company FireEye has also noted that APT32 was actively targeting foreign multinationals and dissidents in Vietnam, and its activities were “of interest to the nation of Vietnam.”

In March, FireEye revealed that APT32 sent malicious lures to as many as 10 automotive manufacturing companies, noting that APT32’s hacking capabilities could help nurture its auto industry by gathering data on the competition.

The same month saw Toyota announce that five sales subsidiaries and three independent dealers in Tokyo had been hacked, exposing personal details of up to 3.1 million customers. Its subsidiaries in Vietnam and Australia also fell victim to similar breaches.

This is nothing new, and as far back as 2010, Google’s security blog reported that a malware which targeted Vietnamese computer users used the infected machines to spy on their owners as well as to participate in distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks against blogs containing messages of political dissent.

Specifically, these attacks tried to squelch opposition to bauxite mining efforts in Vietnam, an important and emotionally charged issue in the country.

“While Vietnam may not have the resources to combat world superpowers – like China or the United States (US) – in traditional warfare or economic stature, cyber (warfare) is levelling the playing field,” said Charity Wright, an intelligence analyst at IntSights.

“Vietnam has the potential to develop into a cybercriminal outpost, as its government continues to censor the public and push its youthful middle class toward the fringes with its strict internet legislation,” she added.

Paper mentioned in the article:
Le Hong Hiep. (2019). The Political Economy of Social Media in Vietnam. ISEAS Yusok Ishak Institute.

•Unlike  China  where  most  western  social  media  platforms  are  blocked,  Vietnam adopts a relatively open approach to these platforms.

•Vietnam’s  smaller  market  and  its  lower  technological  capabilities  prevented Vietnam from emulating China’s strategy, while certain Vietnamese authorities and politicians  seem  to  consider  social  media  a  useful  channel  for  promoting  their missions and personal agendas.

•Blocking  international  social  media  services  will  also  create  a  negative  image  of Vietnam’s business environment and may constrain relations with the United States, with whom Vietnam wishes to strengthen ties.

•The Vietnamese government therefore tends to accommodate western social media platforms by trying to enforce their compliance with local rules through regulatory and economic means rather than blocking them altogether.

•In order to reduce the influence of western social media platforms, the government is  encouraging  domestic  companies  to  develop  local  alternatives.  However,  the prevalence of western social media platforms will remain a formidable challenge for them as well as the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) for years to come.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2021, 06:36:34 PM by girder »


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Re: Vietnam People's Army Cyberspace Operations branch
« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2021, 06:42:17 PM »
Vietnam’s Rise in Cyberspace
Abhilash Halappanavar    22 Jun 2020

With its developed capabilities in manufacturing and technology services, Vietnam has almost on a par with countries like India, China and Japan in exploiting the digital world for the greater good of its population.

While this is promising, Vietnam has also slowly emerged as the newest Gladiator of cyberspace in the Asia-Pacific region.

With the country planning to gain an advantage over regional economic powers like China, Japan, and South Korea, there has been an increase in cyber espionage activity targeting multi-nationals. The country has rarely been associated with cybercrime or attack activity in the same way other Asian nations, such as China, North Korea, and Iran, have in recent years, but this perception is changing rapidly.

Vietnamese-language based activity and internet traffic on the Dark Web are rising, and so are attacks on foreign multi-national corporations and organizations based in the country, particularly automotive companies and media houses.

Vietnam does not have all the resources to compete with world powers like China or the U.S. in traditional warfare or economic stature, but cyberspace is levelling the combat field. Vietnam is developing its potential in becoming a cyber warfare outpost.

The zero death count (to date) in Vietnam due to COVID19 stands testament to how the country might have used its capability in almost blocking the virus outbreak with fewer than 350 infections. This can partly be credited to the hackers based out of Vietnam.

Due to Chinese non-transparency about the virus and need for COVID19 intelligence, hackers targeted Chinese government officials during the coronavirus outbreak in the early days of January 2020, when the pandemic had barely spread anywhere else in the world.

The government-backed hacker group called APT32 (Advanced Persistent Threat Group) also referred to as Ocean Lotus Group, tried to compromise the professional and personal email accounts of employees at China’s Ministry of Emergency Management and the Government of Wuhan. APT32 group’s cyber-attack is in line with similar attempts made by a host of state-backed hackers to compromise governments, businesses, and health organizations in the extraction of information about the new disease and attempts to combat it.

When the health crisis developed and there was a shortage of information, Vietnam deployed its intelligence community via APT32 to gather more information. The very intent to take China head on speaks volumes of Vietnam’s resolve and the attacks could have yielded crucial information to the Vietnamese establishment that gave them a head start in imposing proper measures to contain the virus outbreak successfully.

In the year 2019, the automotive industry had been the main focus for APT32, this group created fake domains for Toyota Motor Corp and Hyundai Motor Co to try and invade the automaker's networks. Toyota learned that it was targeted in Vietnam and Thailand through a subsidiary Toyota Tokyo Sales Holdings Inc in Japan.

In this manner, spying on competitors was done to benefit Vietnam. Vietnam has also targeted U.S based businesses that have relevance to Vietnam’s economy, like the consumer products industry.