For years, the cybersecurity firm FireEye has been the first call for government agencies and companies around the world who have been hacked by the most sophisticated attackers. Now it looks like the hackers, possibly Russia’s intelligence agencies, may be exacting their revenge, reports the New York Times. FireEye says its own systems were pierced by what it called “a nation with top-tier offensive capabilities.” The company said hackers used “novel techniques” to make off with its own tool kit, which could be useful in mounting new attacks around the world. It was a stunning theft. FireEye says it has called in the FBI.
The fact that the FBI turned the case over to its Russia specialists left little doubt who the lead suspects were and that they were after what the company calls “Red Team tools.” These are digital tools that replicate the most sophisticated hacking tools in the world. The hack raises the possibility that Russian intelligence agencies saw an advantage in mounting the attack while U.S. attention was focused on securing the presidential election system. The hack was the biggest known theft of cybersecurity tools since those of the National Security Agency were purloined in 2016 by a still-unidentified group that calls itself the ShadowBrokers. That group dumped the NSA hacking tools online over several months, handing nation-states and hackers the “keys to the digital kingdom,” as a former NSA operator put it. North Korea and Russia used the NAS’s stolen weaponry in destructive attacks on government agencies, hospitals and the world’s biggest conglomerates.