Unknown attackers used a spearphishing campaign to compromise sensitive systems operated by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a coup that allowed them to take control of employee e-mail accounts and access personal information of people doing business with the group.
ICANN, which oversees the Internet's address system, said in a release published Tuesday that the breach also gave attackers administrative access to all files stored in its centralized zone data system, as well as the names, postal addresses, e-mail addresses, fax and phone numbers, user names, and cryptographically hashed passwords of account holders who used the system. Domain registries use the database to help manage the current allocation of hundreds of new generic top level domains (gTLDs) currently underway. Attackers also gained unauthorized access to the content management systems of several ICANN blogs.
"We believe a 'spear phishing' attack was initiated in late November 2014," Tuesday's press release stated. "It involved email messages that were crafted to appear to come from our own domain being sent to members of our staff. The attack resulted in the compromise of the email credentials of several ICANN staff members."