NATO, European governments hit by 'MiniDuke' cyberattack
By Jim Finkle, ReutersSAN FRANCISCO -- Hackers targeted dozens of computer systems at government agencies across Europe through a flaw in Adobe Systems Inc.'s software, security researchers said on Wednesday, while NATO said it too had been attacked.
March 1, 2013, 1:24 pm TWN
The alliance said its systems had not been compromised, although it was sharing the details of the attack with NATO member states and remained vigilant. Security experts say governments and organizations such as NATO are attacked on a daily basis — although the sophistication varies wildly.
These particular attacks appeared both widespread and innovative, the private computer security firms announcing the discovery said, with one expert saying he believed a nation-state might be responsible.
Russia's Kaspersky Lab and Hungary's Laboratory of Cryptography and System Security, or CrySyS, said the targets of the campaign included government computers in the Czech Republic, Ireland, Portugal and Romania.
They also said a think tank, a research institute and a healthcare provider in the United States, a prominent research institute in Hungary and other entities in Belgium and Ukraine were among those targeted by the malicious software, which they have dubbed “MiniDuke.”
The researchers suspect MiniDuke was designed for espionage, but were still trying to figure out the attack's ultimate goal. “This is a unique, fresh and very different type of attack,” said Kurt Baumgartner, a senior security researcher with Kaspersky Lab. “The technical indicators show this is a new type of threat actor that hasn't been reported on before.”
He said he would not speculate on who the hackers might be.
The malware exploited a recently identified security flaw in Adobe's software. Adobe said a software patch issued last week should protect users from “MiniDuke” providing they downloaded it.
Boldizsar Bencsath, a cyber security expert who runs the malware research team at CrySyS, told Reuters that he had reported the incident to NATO, although it was not clear if that was what first alerted the alliance.
Bencsath said he believed a nation-state was behind the attack because of the level of sophistication and the identity of the targets, adding that it was difficult to identify which country was involved.
Exactly how serious the attacks were was not immediately clear, nor who exactly the targets were or at what level European governments were alerted.