recommended reading

Feds Urge Major Industries To Take Steps To Deflect Data Wipe Virus

Amy Walters/

The Homeland Security Department is asking that operators of key U.S. networks follow specific precautions to stave off a virus that last summer erased computers at Middle Eastern oil companies.

A new bulletin for energy producers and other critical infrastructure businesses provides 31 "tactical" and "strategic” repellants for Shamoon, malicious software that wipes out data on infected machines. 

In October 2012, then Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called the Shamoon virus “probably the most destructive attack that the private sector has seen to date.”

Much of the new guidance might read like security hygiene 101 to information technology managers, but the pointers reflect insight into how the malicious software targets victims.  

For example, DHS officials say that restricting social media at offices in critical sectors could reduce the risk of infection.

“Limit the use of social networking services at work, such as personal email, instant messaging, Facebook, Twitter,” states the federal alert, distributed by a DHS branch that responds to "industrial control system" intrusions.  

An earlier DHS bulletin, issued after researchers revealed the malware’s existence in August, reported no evidence that Shamoon "specifically targets industrial control systems' components or U.S. government agencies," but cautioned that it "spreads via network shares to infect additional machines on the network."

The advisory indicates that the bug is keen on traversing systems via administrative accounts and data accessories, such as flash drives. “Prevent or limit the use of all removable media devices on systems to limit the spread or introduction of malicious software and possible exfiltration data,” Homeland Security officials instructed. They also recommended that firms “disable Web and email capabilities on administrative accounts” because the “compromise of admin accounts is one vector that allows malicious activity to become truly persistent in a network environment.”

Unlike the Stuxnet virus that commandeered Iran’s nuclear centrifuges in late 2009, Shamoon does not obliterate industrial operations, but rather erases data.  

(Image via Amy Walters/

Threatwatch Alert

Network intrusion / Stolen credentials

85M User Accounts Compromised from Video-sharing Site Dailymotion

See threatwatch report


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.