Feeds

Symantec: Don't blame us for New York Times hack

AV giant says AV isn't enough these days...

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Symantec has taken the unusual step of commenting on a story about a customer, issuing a robust statement denying its anti-virus products were to blame for sophisticated targeted attack on the New York Times.

The Gray Lady revealed yesterday that it had been persistently attacked for four months by China-based cyber insurgents. They used classic APT-style techniques to breach defences before lifting New York Times staff passwords in an attempt to find out more information on an expose run by the paper into outgoing Premier Wen Jiabao.

The killer paragraph for Symantec, however, was the following, which could be interpreted as the NYT attempting to shift blame for the breach onto its security provider.

"Over the course of three months, attackers installed 45 pieces of custom malware. The Times — which uses antivirus products made by Symantec — found only one instance in which Symantec identified an attacker’s software as malicious and quarantined it, according to Mandiant".

Although Symantec’s policy is not to comment on its customers, it wasn’t long before it released the following as a “follow-up” to the Times story.

"Advanced attacks like the ones the New York Times described … underscore how important it is for companies, countries and consumers to make sure they are using the full capability of security solutions. The advanced capabilities in our endpoint offerings, including our unique reputation-based technology and behaviour-based blocking, specifically target sophisticated attacks. Turning on only the signature-based anti-virus components of endpoint solutions alone are not enough in a world that is changing daily from attacks and threats. We encourage customers to be very aggressive in deploying solutions that offer a combined approach to security. Anti-virus software alone is not enough."

Symantec obviously falls short of clarifying whether the New York Times had these extra capabilities, and if it did whether they were “switched on”, although the careful wording of the statement would indicate not.

Most security vendors today have supplemented their standard signature-based AV offerings with more advanced tools to spot zero day malware – which is usually employed in attacks like this.

While CSOs are wisely cautious of believing every piece of FUD-based “intelligence” from the information security vendor community, a tipping point does seem to have been reached where it’s now wise to invest in such tools, especially if you're a high profile organisation.

As if to re-iterate its message on the prevalence of advanced targeted attacks, Symantec warned in a new blog post published on Friday of a sophisticated spear phishing campaign targeting the directors and VPs of aerospace and defence firms. ®

New hybrid storage solutions

More from The Register

next story
Google recommends pronounceable passwords
Super Chrome goes into battle with Mr Mxyzptlk
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
Reddit wipes clean leaked celeb nudie pics, tells users to zip it
Now we've had all THAT TRAFFIC, we 'deplore' this theft
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
TorrentLocker unpicked: Crypto coding shocker defeats extortionists
Lousy XOR opens door into which victims can shove a foot
Greater dev access to iOS 8 will put us AT RISK from HACKERS
Knocking holes in Apple's walled garden could backfire, says securo-chap
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
NORKS ban Wi-Fi and satellite internet at embassies
Crackdown on tardy diplomatic sysadmins providing accidental unfiltered internet access
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.