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Biggest cybersecurity threat to American businesses may come from Russian hackers.

Summary: The biggest cybersecurity threat to American companies may not be local hackers, other businesses or even foreign criminal organizations. Instead, says one prominent security company, ...

The biggest cybersecurity threat to American companies may not be local hackers, other businesses or even foreign criminal organizations. Instead, says one prominent security company, it's hackers supported by the Russian government.

A report from FireEye Inc. details one "sophisticated superweapon" found within a U.S. firm, malware that was able to evade detection and was consistently evolving. Given the prevalence of Russian language within the code and compile times that align with Russian working hours, FireEye concludes that this superweapon, APT28, was sponsored by the Russian government.

"We started researching APT28 based on activity we observed on our clients' networks, similar to other targeted threat groups we have identified over time," FireEye writes. "We assess that APT28 is most likely sponsored by the Russian government. APT28's characteristics--their targeting, malware, language, and working hours--have led us to conclude that we are tracking a focused, long-standing espionage effort."

According to the Wall Street Journal, the FireEye report is just one of multiple suspected Russian-sponsored cybersecurity threats. Among the believed Russian targets are U.S. defense contractors, such as Science Applications International Corp. and ACADEMI LLC. U.S. officials also believe that the recent infiltration of JPMorgan Chase may be of Russian origin, although the exact source has been tough to nail down.

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The WSJ quotes Director of National Intelligence James Clapper as saying he worries "a lot more about the Russians." Even though Chinese hackers may be more numerous, researchers say, Russian hackers typically work better.

For the defense industry, Russian hackers present a unique challenge, both for in-house legal departments and for IT specialists. Suzanne Rich Folsom, current GC of U.S. Steel and former chief compliance officer of ACADEMI, told InsideCounsel in June that these threats require a steady hand and unparalleled resolve.

"If you are going to be dealing with a crisis you have to have thick skin and stand steadfast. It becomes very hard as the GC or the CCO in a time of crisis," Folsom said. "You're going to do the right thing even if that means you don't have a job at the end of the day. If you're not willing to sit at the table and realize you have a role to play and that role means being a voice and raising your hand, then perhaps it is not the right role for you."

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Publication:Inside Counsel
Date:Oct 28, 2014
Words:457
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