This Tuesday, the Italian state police dismantled a cyber-espionage ring spearheaded by a brother and sister that sought to exert control over public institutions and administrations, professional studios, employers, and politicians. The network was able to access confidential information by installing a virus on victims’ computers, stealing information sensitive to financial institutions and state security.

Among those affected are former Prime Ministers Matteo Renzi and Mario Monti, as well as the president of the Central European Bank, Mario Draghi, as well as other individuals in possession of confidential information. Mayors, cardinals, regional presidents, economists, employers, and law enforcement officials are also on the list.

How Eye Pyramid Works

The investigation has been dubbed “Eye Pyramid”, after the particularly invasive malware that the suspects used to infiltrate the systems of the people they spied on.

These intrusions appear to have first surfaced in 2012, reaching 18,327 users with the theft of 1,793 passwords using a keylogger. This comes out to be around 87GB data. The method of infiltration was simple given the serious nature of the attack: the cybercriminal sent an email, the recipient opened it, and upon opening the email a software was installed on the device, giving access to its secret files.

Older versions of the malware with unknown origins (although possibly linked to Sauron) were probably used in 2008, 2010, 2011, and 2014 in various spear phishing campaigns.

In a hyperconnected world, with mounting tension between cybersecurity and cyber-espionage — we’ve recently seen a crossfire of accusations exchanged between major powers like the US, China, and Russia — these attacks appear to have special relevance to state security and the dangers it faces in the cyber world.

Advanced Persistent Threat, or How to Avoid a Cybernetic Nightmare

This attack, unprecedented in Italy, will continue to be under investigation and, according to authorities, may end up revealing connections to other cyberattacks carried out in other countries.

Protecting your confidential and sensitive data from cybercriminal networks and attacks such as ATPs is crucial in combatting the growing professionalization of cybercrime.

Advanced threats are no longer an issue when you’ve got an advanced cybersecurity solution like Adaptive Defense 360, the platform that connects contextual intelligence with defense operations to stay ahead of malicious behaviors and data theft. Protection systems are triggered and jump into action before the malware even has a chance to run.

Thwarting potential threats before they become a real problem is the only way to rest easy knowing that your information has not ended up falling into the wrong hands.