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Symantec: New Cyber Attack Targets Chemical Firms

November 01, 2011
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Reuters reports, at least 48 chemical and defense companies were victims of a coordinated cyber attack that has been traced to a man in China, according to a new report from security firm Symantec Corp. Computers belonging to these companies were infected with malicious software known as "PoisonIvy," which was used to steal information such as design documents, formulas and details on manufacturing processes, Symantec said on Monday. It did not identify the companies, but said they include multiple Fortune 100 corporations that develop compounds and advanced materials. The bulk of the infected machines were based in the United States and United Kingdom, Symantec said, adding that the victims include 29 chemicals companies. The cyber campaign ran from late July through mid-September. The Nitro campaign is the latest in a series of highly targeted cyber attacks that security experts say are likely the work of government-backed hackers. Symantec said on Monday that the Nitro attackers sent emails with tainted attachments to between 100 and 500 employees at a company, claiming to be from established business partners or to contain bogus security updates. When an unsuspecting recipient opens the attachment, it installs "PoisonIvy," a Remote Access Trojan (RAT) that can take control of a machine and that is easily available over the Internet.

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