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FBI warns of major malware-based attacks following the Sony Pictures hack

The Reuters has reported that the FBI issued a confidential warning to US businesses following the destructive malware based attack on Sony Pictures.

Following the major breach breach at Sony Pictures Entertainment, the FBI  issued an alert to U.S. businesses related to possible malware-based attacks. According the Reuters Agency, the malicious code described in the alert  could be the attack vector used by threat actors in the incident occurred to the Sony Pictures.

The FBI issued a confidential “flash” warning to the US businesses on Monday which includes technical details about the malware used in the attack and a suggestions for the incident response. The five-page document was sent to security staff at some US companies via email, the Bureau also requested to avoid to share it.

The cyber attacks against the Sony Pictures is creating a great big alarmism within the authorities, which fear that major destructive offensive could compromise the operation of other company on U.S. soil. It’s the first time that a similar attack hit a multinational firm in the US, in the past similar destructive attacks caused the block of the operation at Saudi Aramco firm in 2012 when a virus infected 30,000 work stations and all the company servers targeted were cleaned and restored causing the block of the company activity.

“I believe the coordinated cyberattack with destructive payloads against a corporation in the U.S. represents a watershed event,” said Tom Kellermann, chief cybersecurity officer with security Trend Micro Inc. “Geopolitics now serve as harbingers for destructive cyberattacks.”

The warning issued by the FBI states that the malware overrides all data on hard drives of computers, including the master boot record, which prevents the targeted machines them from booting up.

“The overwriting of the data files will make it extremely difficult and costly, if not impossible, to recover the data using standard forensic methods,” states the report. 

In time I’m writing Sony confirmed that had “restored a number of important services” and was “working closely with law enforcement officials to investigate the matter.” Sony Pictures Entertainment hasn’t provided an official comment on the warning issued by the FBI.


The investigations are involving government entities, including the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, meantime, Sony has hired FireEye Inc’s Mandiant incident response team to help clean up after the attack and support the company to manage the incident response activities.

Many activities to restore a normal operation are time-consuming and expensive process, they often require technicians to manually either replace the damaged systems and its components.

The FBI warning did not include the name the victim in the alert, but two cybersecurity experts who analyzed the document confirmed to the Reuters that “it was clearly referring to the breach at the California-based unit of Sony Corp.”

“This correlates with information about that many of us in the security industry have been tracking,” said one of the people who reviewed the document. “It looks exactly like information from the Sony attack.”

“The FBI routinely advises private industry of various cyber threat indicators observed during the course of our investigations,” he said. “This data is provided in order to help systems administrators guard against the actions of persistent cyber criminals.” said the FBI spokesman Joshua Campbell confirming the distribution of the alert to private US businesses.

As I reported in a previous post related to the Sony Pictures Entertainment I have confirmed the difficulties for the attribution of attack in this phase, anyway Sony Pictures has reportedly begun investigating possible involvement of hackers from North Korea. The news was reported by Re/code, which cited insider sources, the investigators speculate that North Korean hackers hit the Sony Pictures operating from the China.

“The timing of the attack coincides with the imminent release of “The Interview,” a Sony film that depicts a CIA plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. The nation’s ever-belligerent state propaganda outlets have threatened “merciless retaliation” against the U.S. and other nations if the film is released.” states the Re/code portal.

“The movie, which is due to be released in the United States and Canada on Dec. 25, is a comedy about two journalists recruited by the CIA to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The Pyongyang government denounced the film as “undisguised sponsoring of terrorism, as well as an act of war” in a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in June. The technical section of the FBI report said some of the software used by the hackers had been compiled in Korean, but it did not discuss any possible connection to North Korea.” states the Reuters.”

Pierluigi Paganini

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