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McAfee Showcases Increased Commitment to Cyber Threat Research with Shamoon Revelations

April 2017 by McAfee

A few weeks after launching as a
standalone company, McAfee LLC announced it will increase investments and resources in cyber threat research.
As a proof point of this commitment, McAfee released
that a series of Shamoon malware campaigns targeting Saudi
Arabia are the work of one coordinated force of attackers, rather than that of
multiple independent renegade hacker groups.

McAfee’s new investment will focus on investigations of the global threat
landscape’s most sophisticated cyberwarfare and cybercrime campaigns. In
investigating the latest threats, their design, and how they are built into
cyber-attack campaigns, McAfee will then look to help customers better
understand the technology and tactics of their adversaries. Areas of increased
focus will include advanced malware, ransomware, financial fraud, general
cybercrime, cyber espionage, cyberwarfare, and protection of industrial control
systems. Among other contributions, McAfee will provide cyber security
professionals the McAfee Threat Landscape
, an overview of the latest, most
significant threats tracked by McAfee researchers.

McAfee will also increase its engagement with law enforcement and academia,
including coordinated efforts to take down criminal networks, develop new
approaches to fighting cybercrime, and recruit more young people to join the
ranks of cybersecurity professionals.

"Campaign investigations complete our triad of research capabilities focused on
keeping the digital world safe," said Steve Grobman, Chief Technology Officer
for McAfee LLC. "McAfee is committed to bringing together world-class threat
intelligence, vulnerability research, and investigative expertise to provide
customers more insights into how specific malicious actors develop and wage

Today’s Shamoon disclosure surveys the evolution of Shamoon malware campaigns,
from the 2012 attacks on the Middle Eastern energy sector, to the latest cyber
espionage campaigns of 2016 and 2017. Whereas earlier Shamoon campaigns targeted
a relatively small number of energy sector organizations to disrupt the
operations of the region’s critical energy industry, the more recent attacks
focused on a greater number of organizations in the energy, government,
financial services and critical infrastructure sectors of Saudi Arabia.

The commonalities between these campaigns suggest that, rather than being the
product of multiple independent hacker groups, they are more likely the product
of one comprehensive cyber espionage operation on the scale one would expect
from a serious geopolitical actor. Furthermore, the findings illustrate the arc
of the actor’s development and increased sophistication over the last five
years. It is the latest evidence that rogue state and stateless actors are
developing cyberwarfare and cyber espionage capabilities without which they
would otherwise be unable to gain advantages versus major state actors and their
extensive conventional military and surveillance capabilities.

The McAfee disclosure offers customers and partners constructive guidance to
fend off such attacks on their own organizations.

"We strongly believe that the latest threat data must be complemented with a
deeper understanding of how today’s advanced cyberattacks operate," said Raj
Samani, Chief Scientist and head of McAfee Strategic Intelligence, the group
leading McAfee’s investigative research. "The revelations of this latest
research remind us that data can be the difference, but only if we can gain a
view into the inner workings of threats, the campaigns they spearhead, and the
individuals and organizations behind them."

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