Hours after Apple announced its worst ever cyber attack, amid multiple stories that the trail led back to the Chinese military, Bloomberg reported that the malware attacks were linked to an Eastern European gang. That’s according to “two people familiar with the matter.” The Bloomberg story alleges that Facebook, Twitter and other websites were all attacked by the same Eastern European group and is believed to have originated from the Urkaine.
Also on Tuesday, the Alexandria, Virginia-based cyber security firm Mandiant made public a comprehensive 60-page report that identified a sophisticated Chinese group of hackers working for the Chinese military. In its report, Mandiant said the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Unit 61398 was operating out of a 12-story building in Shanghai and suggests that more than 140 companies were hacked, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, Wall St. Journal, Twitter, Facebook and Apple. Not unexpectedly the Chinese government has vehemently denied any involvement with these latest string of attacks and instead suggested that the United States is responsible for cyber attacks of its own against China.
With multiple media sources supporting the Bloomberg story, including CNN, PC Magazine and the Los Angeles Times, the attention has slightly shifted away from hackers from China, although with Mandiant’s report, the world’s most populous country still deserves immediate attention from the U.S. government and the American entities who have been victimized. It is also believed that multiple start up companies have also been attacked but haven’t offered a public acknowledgement for fear it might hurt its marketing image and scare away investors.
The hackers who are believed to be responsible in this latest in a never ending deluge of cyber attacks, may have exploited a website identified as iPhoneDevSDK, that’s described as “the most widely read dedicated iOS developer forum.” Internet users are advised against viewing this website until its security team can assure visitors that any malware has been removed.
In response to the cyber attacks, Apple released a Java update for users of MAC OS X that the company says includes a malware removal tool that “will remove the most common variants of malware.” In conjunction with MAC OS X, the Cupertino-based company also released an update for users of iOS. On its Product Support site, Apple lists an email for Mac users report security uses, in addition to its product support site. Also on the site is information on how to encrypt sensitive emails.
American cyber experts are still working together to determine the extent of the multiple attacks waged against American companies. In the meantime, the U.S. government may be preparing a cyber attack of its own against China, the Ukraine or any other country that attempts to wreak havoc on the American computer infrastructure.