Newly Discovered Russian Hacking Tool Is Extra Sneaky

Victor Lauer/

Russian hackers have a newly discovered tool in their arsenal to access your computer.

It's a piece of malicious software dubbed "Cannon" by researchers at Palo Alto Networks, who wrote about the hacking tool in a blog post on Tuesday.

Once the malware is on your computer, it takes screenshots of your homepage and then uses your email account to send the images to the hackers—all without your knowledge. The Cannon software essentially becomes a spy camera living on your computer.

According to Palo Alto Networks, the hackers behind this are part of the Russian military spy agency better known as Fancy Bear, the same group behind the 2016 hack of the Democratic National Committee. And who are these notorious Russian hackers targeting now? They have Cannon poised at U.S. and European governments, of course.

Naturally, this scheme all started with a few successful phishing attempts. The Russian hackers sent emails to their targets with blank Word documents attached. The blank documents didn't catch the attention of security software, but once the targets clicked to open them, they also unknowingly downloaded a remote template featuring malicious code. If this sounds scary, there are a few ways you can protect yourself and your networks by avoiding the phishing bait. 

If you're still confused about how Russia is firing its Cannon, Palo Alto Networks has even created a comic strip to explain the process: 

Palo Alto Networks

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