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By Rachel Ehrenfeld
Rising geopolitical tensions have led to a constant barrage of cyber hacking into the U.S. government, industries and businesses. The recent attack against California-based Sony Pictures Entertainment marked a turning point. It was the first officially acknowledged destructive coordinated cyberattack against a U.S.-based corporation.
This led to Monday’s FBI confidential “flash” report warning to businesses, explaining that the malicious software overrides all data on hard drives of the computers, and the master boot record. “The overwriting of the data files prevents the computers from booting up and makes it impossible to recover the data using standard forensic methods,” the report said.
And while the FBI did not identify U.S. companies that suffered such destructive cyberattack, or the perpetrators, Iran deployed a similar attack against Saudi Aramco, and North Korea used similar destructive malware against South Korea in the past, and now against Sony.
Also on Monday, the cybersecurity company FireEye reported that more than 100 U.S. companies, mostly in the pharmaceutical industry and their investment advisers have been hacked, apparently successfully. The hackers obtained information on new drug trials, and may have manipulated the companies’ stocks. The hackers’ familiarity with Wall Street and their use of “native English” in the malware led FireEye’s spokesperson to the strange conclusion that the hackers were Americans or Europeans. Not necessarily.