The international news agency Reuters was first to report the recent warning issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding computer hacking. In this release the FBI warned U.S. businesses that “hackers have used malicious software to launch a destructive cyber-attack in the United States, following a devastating breach last week at Sony Pictures Entertainment.”
Experts in the field of cyber-security evaluated the malicious software described in the alert and have concluded that it appeared to be the same as the one that affected Sony, which would mark the first major destructive cyber-attack waged against a company on U.S. soil. Such attacks have been common in Asia and Middle Eastern nations, but none of this magnitude have been reported in the United States.
The FBI report did not say how many companies have fallen victim to these destructive attacks. But the five-page, confidential “flash” FBI warning issued to businesses on December 1st did provide some technical details about the malicious software used in the attack. The report said the malware overrides all data on a computer’s hard drive, including the master boot record, which prevents the machine from booting up.
The report also provided advice on how to respond to the malware and asked businesses to contact the FBI if they identified similar malware within their networks.
CNN Money also reported on the FBI alert, stating “The threat comes from the same type of malicious software that infected Sony’s computer systems, according to law enforcement.” Additionally, it has been reported that this malware may be responsible for at least five Sony films, which have yet to be released, making their way online.
Sony is reportedly exploring the possibility of a North Korean link to the hacking, due to the fact that the entertainment giant is about to release a movie titled The Interview. The comedy, starring James Franco and Seth Rogen, has a somewhat controversial plot where the CIA enlists two unsuspecting Americans to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.
Also leaked to on-line viewers was Brad Pitt’s Fury, the remake of the musical Annie, and several other new Sony releases.
According to cyber experts, this problem is unfortunately not going away and is only expected to get worse. The online news source known as eWeek recently interviewed Tom Kellermann, Chief Cyber-security Officer for Trend Micro. In this interview Kellermann stated, “Financial institutions are the holy grail of hacking as 95 percent of all ‘money’ is digital.”
Kellermann continued by stating that “more than 98 percent of bank heists occur in cyberspace and this is being exacerbated by mobile banking and the correspondent rise in mobile mugging. Financial institutions adhere to higher standards of security than other industries, however they are also targeted by the world’s elite hackers.”
Kellermann warned the public by stating that “the average consumer should deploy mobile security on all their mobile devices. Update all critical updates every Tuesday. Never use public Wi-Fi and change passwords to pass phrases with symbols. Lastly, one should never click on links, instead, cut and paste them into a browser.”
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