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‘Mask’ virus infected computers in government, others for seven years

Kaspersky Labs called the virus among the “most advance threats” the company has seen

Lawsuits keep pouring in against companies related to data breaches, but they aren’t the only entities feeling the cybersecurity sting. A recently discovered virus may have been targeting computers of government officials and activists before it was found in early February.

Kaspersky Labs called the “Careto”, or “Mask”, virus among the “most advanced threats” the company has seen. Kaspersky says in a 65-page security report that more than 380 unique victims in 31 countries have been observed to date.

“When active in a victim system, The Mask can intercept network traffic, keystrokes, Skype conversations, PGP keys, analyze WiFi traffic, fetch all information from Nokia devices, screen captures and monitor all file operations,” Kaspersky wrote. The lab also said the virus collected a large list of documents from the infected system.

Shortly after Kaspersky published its report, the Mask’s activities ceased, according to the BBC.

Possibly, Kaspersky suspects, the virus is sophisticated enough to possibly have been disseminated by a government body. However, according to Symantec security researcher Liam O'Murchu, the motivations behind the virus remain unclear.

“Just looking at the targets, it is not obvious who would want to target them; there is no obvious pattern,” he told Reuters. “The code is professionally written, but it's even difficult to say whether it is written by a government or by a private company that sells this type of software.”

Although there are many ways for in-house counsel to support company cybersecurity, hackers and cyber threats are constantly finding new ways to threaten company infrastructure. As a result, it is important for counsel to not only update cybersecurity policies, but to constantly update those policies to respond to new threats as they occur.


For more on cybersecurity in the legal world, check out these InsideCounsel stories:

Target facing lawsuits from small banks over data breach

Inside: Communications with boards of directors regarding privacy and information security governance

OfficeMax proves counsel should be wary of externally collected data

Zach Warrren

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