US' FBI has warned businesses that hackers have used malicious software to launch destructive cyber attacks, following a hack last week at Sony Pictures Entertainment. According to the report the malware overrides data on hard drives of computers, making them inoperable and shuts down networks.
The FBI issued a five-page, confidential "flash" warning to various businesses and provided some technical details about the malicious software used in the attack, though it didn't mention the victims name. FBI says that it is extremely difficult and costly to recover hard drives that have been attacked with the malware. Read: Symantec uncovers new computer malware, Regin
"The overwriting of the data files will make it extremely difficult and costly, if not impossible, to recover the data using standard forensic methods," the report said.
According to reports the malware caused serious damage to Sony's databases. The FBI told NBC News it is "working with our interagency partners to investigate the recently reported cyber intrusion at Sony Pictures Entertainment."
Sony Pictures is investigating whether North Korea was behind the hack in retaliation for a Hollywood film depicting a plot to assassinate Kim Jong-un. North Korea had threatened “a strong and merciless countermeasure” against the US if it released the Sony Pictures’ film The Interview.
"I believe the coordinated cyber attack with destructive payloads against a corporation in the U.S. represents a watershed event," said Tom Kellermann, chief cybersecurity officer with security software maker Trend Micro Inc. "Geopolitics now serve as harbingers for destructive cyberattacks."
The FBI warning comes after Cyber security specialist FireEye had stated in a report that a group of hackers has targeted more than 100 companies to get information on their deal making plans. FireEye believes that the group had "deep familiarity with business deals" and that it was using the information to conduct insider trading.
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