You would think that governments would be the one organization in the world that would be immune to computer viruses because they have sensitive information on every citizen as well as military secrets. Yet a new type of malware called Red October that targets governments was recently discovered after slipping by the tightest security systems in the world.
The Red October malware specifically targets government’s network infrastructures in Eurasia. The worst part about Red October is that it was discovered only after being active on government computers for five years. The nature of Red October is to steal data from e-mails, documents, PDF files, and Microsoft Office. This means that there are a few unfortunate governments that may have had up to five year’s worth of data compromised.
Every malware code is different. Some malwares are more harmful than others. Kaspersky Lab is the cyber security company that discovered Red October; they claim that Red October targets government computers, mobile devices, and entire network infrastructures. Red October can also target specific users within an organization and track keyboard activity, steal browser history, passwords, and take screenshots. In fact, due to the sensitive nature of the data that was compromised, the public has yet to be fully briefed on the specifics of Red October.
Many of us follow current events and are aware of the wars that governments are engaged in, but we tend to hear less about the virtual wars that governments are waging on computer systems. Malware like Red October is an example of a weapon that we see governments using and falling victim to. We do not know exactly where Red October came from; it may not even be officially from a government because many rogue terrorist groups also make use of computer viruses. Soldiers in this digital war are hackers who call themselves hacktivist. Their targets are often political and they are well funded by like-minded groups.
Unless your business has deep government ties, your computers are probably not at risk from Red October malware. Although, keep in mind that a hacktivist group looking to take down your government would not hesitate to include your business as collateral damage. There are also several malwares like Red October active in the private sector, and if your company’s sensitive data were hit with one of these cyber-threats, then your company’s reputation would take a critical hit.
It is vital for businesses to have a strong virus protection, especially if you consider that your clients only give you their sensitive data because they assume that you will keep it safe. Keeping current with Windows updates and security patches, and making sure that your antivirus software is up-to-date are two big measures that you can take to protect your business. TMS can provide you with extra security measures like a UTM firewall solution or a remote monitoring service that will update all of your software. If you are unsure if there is a virus on your network like Red October already at work and doing damage, then call TMS at 1 (626) 737-2960 and we will hunt it down with our free virus scan. “We have the advantage” -Captain Ramius from the motion picture ‘The Hunt for Red October’