The promise of nude pictures of former French first lady Carla Bruni was used by hackers as bait to snare dozens of diplomats attending the G20 summit in Paris in 2011, it has emerged.
The email-based cyber attack involved duping victims into clicking on a link offering naked pictures of the former French first lady and model. The link, however, left the diplomats prey to the hacker's ‘espionage-focused malware'.
‘To see naked pictures of Carla Bruni click here’ said the message sent to those attending.
The link prompted recipients to open an attachment that contained an embedded virus known as a 'Trojan Horse'. Once clicked on the virus forwarded the email onto other recipients.
The attack, which it is believed could still be ongoing, originated in China, according to research published by US-based computer security firm FireEye.
“Almost everybody who received the email took the bait,” an official in Paris was quoted as saying by the Daily Telegraph.
According to reports the representatives hacked included some from the Czech Republic, Portugal, Bulgaria, Hungary and Latvia.
The attacks are currently still under investigation and it isn't clear what information was extracted during them.
Cyber security is increasingly under scrutiny following a number of high-profile recent attacks. The British government has today announced new measures to improve cyber security. Central to the proposals is the introduction of a cyber security 'kitemark' for businesses
"The cyber attack will remain a serious threat to our national security," Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude is expected to say today.
"We still have work to do but investment, partnerships, skills, resilience and awareness are in a far stronger position today than before this programme was launched."