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News

Increased Malware Attacks In Europe Herald New Cyber-Threat Era

FireEye : 27 June, 2012  (Technical Article)
FireEye comments on recent MI5 statement and the loss of millions of Euros from European bank accounts in what the company believes to be the start of a new era of cyber threats
Increased Malware Attacks In Europe Herald New Cyber-Threat Era
It has just been reported that some 60 million Euros has been stolen from bank accounts across the continent as a result of organised cyber crime, with attacks mainly targeting Italian, German and Dutch banks. This comes the day after Jonathan Evans, head of the MI5, claimed that the organisation is fighting against an ‘astonishing’ level of cyber-attacks on UK industry. Evans also suggested that the target of cyber threats is shifting towards government and big businesses – with MI5 investigating claims that one major London business has suffered £800 million in losses following an attack.

Evans warned that internet vulnerabilities were increasingly the target of nation states as well as cyber criminals.  His stark warning of the increased cyber threat to our nation’s secrets and industry comes in the wake of the recent Google announcement that the company will warn all Gmail account users if their account has been the target of a state-sponsored attack and the recent discovery of the Flame virus, described as the most sophisticated computer virus in the world, targeting Iranian IT systems.

Paul Davis, director of Europe at FireEye made the following comments:

“Recent news surrounding state-sponsored malware attacks serves to reinforce the notion that we have entered a new era of cyber threats. As evidenced by Jonathan Evans’ latest speech and breaking news of financial losses at banks across Europe, cyber espionage is more prevalent than people realise – and it is time that governments and businesses take note.  In most cases, the victim organisations perform damage control before the breach becomes public.  That said, as attacks become more advanced and complex, it is very likely this type of activity will become more visible to the public – particularly as cybercriminals begin to target critical infrastructure and other systems that could have a greater impact on human lives.  More worryingly, as these attacks become more high-profile, others could potentially learn from these techniques, making future attempts even more difficult to defend against.

“Just as internet shoppers have credit card details that low-level hackers find alluring, businesses and governments have vast amounts of Intellectual Property and sensitive information that today’s cybercriminals are targeting through advanced attacks. It is important that this shift in focus does not catch us off guard.

“Cyber attacks have become a new form of ‘cold conflict’, where nation states are able to affect each other through indirect means. This evolved threat landscape now means that any organisation, government or nation must urgently up the ante on pre-emptive security before it is too late.  Over-reliance on traditional signature-based perimeter defences and heuristics means that too many are still lulled into a false sense of security - while woefully exposed to zero day, unknown attacks.  Instead, more must be done to ensure continuous monitoring of all network activity so that attacks can be thwarted at an early enough stage to prevent any widespread damage. While this announcement from MI5 seems to point to the fact that we are waking up to the modern threat landscape, it is painfully clear that much more must be done to bring security procedures in line with the current threat level.”
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