The UK struck a cybersecurity deal with FireEye just weeks before foreign state hackers gained access to its powerful digital weaponry.
FireEye, which has made its name by tracking government-sponsored cyber-attacks, last night revealed that «a nation with top-tier offensive capabilities» had made off with its «red team» hacking tools, used to probe and test clients’ defences.
FireEye said that while hackers were able to access its internal systems, there was “no evidence” the attackers accessed its sensitive government work. It does not believe any “metadata collected by our products in our dynamic threat intelligence systems” had been stolen, but that it would warn customers if their information was accessed.
However, the Telegraph has discovered that the attack came just weeks after the Ministry of Defence inked a deal with FireEye over cybersecurity tools.
Elsewhere internet companies including Twitter, Vimeo and Tumblr have this morning written to the EU, urging it against putting in place blanket rules over illegal and harmful content.
Follow for live updates below.
Why it may just be a matter of time before a repeat of WannaCry
When news emerged on Tuesday evening that FireEye, a leading American cybersecurity business, had seen its hacking tools stolen by cyber criminals, experts immediately feared the worst, writes James Cook.
«Companies were able to recover from seeing their computers locked for days during WannaCry in 2017, but a similar attack in 2020 on businesses and organisations already struggling to recover from the pandemic could be catastrophic.
«Many government agencies are developing and stockpiling hacking tools, but there seems to be little consideration on what to do if they are stolen or backfire.»
The threat is becoming increasingly apparent. After all, a growing number of companies have been accused of launching government-based hacking attacks in recent years.
Breaking: Britain signed $1m deal with FireEye weeks before Russia-linked cyber attack
The UK struck a million dollar deal with FireEye in October, the Telegraph has discovered, coming just weeks before the US cybersecurity company fell victim to suspected Russian hackers.
As my colleague Margi Murphy reports:
FireEye, a Silicon Valley cyber firm, inked a £865,500 year-long deal with the Ministry of Defence in October, to supply the department with a “threat intelligence feed”.
warned on Tuesday that “a nation with top-tier offensive capabilities” had stolen its bespoke digital hacking software. CEO Kevin Mandia warned the hackers had been attempting to make off with sensitive details on its Government clients and operations.
He said, whilst there was “no evidence” the attackers accessed its sensitive government work, they had been attempting steal FireEye’s so-called “red team” hacking tools.
This software is used by companies like FireEye to probe defences for government and corporate clients – effectively a suit of the latest digital weaponry.
Lab-grown meat on the menu
This week, Singapore has approved the sale of cultured meat, opening the doors to what is seen as a cleaner, less cruel alternative for many.
Lab-grown meat uses cells from live animals, cultivates them and combines them other plant-based ingredients to produce alternatives.
Although not a vegetarian option, given it still uses foetal bovine serum, taken from blood in the foetus of animals, the process could help reduce the slaughter of animals worldwide.
Activist investors ready attack on tech companies
Technology will be among the most targeted sectors by activist investors next year, according to an annual report by Alvarez & Marsal out this morning.
The professional services firm predicted that 29 technology companies were now at risk from activist investors, who take stakes in firms and pressure companies into making changes, compared to 24 a year ago.
Healthcare and industrials are also expected to be prime targets for activist shareholders.
Malcolm McKenzie, from A&M, said: “Crunch time for some sectors is fast approaching. Surprisingly, even sectors deemed to be ‘COVID winners’ such as technology and healthcare are not immune from activist attention; they will in fact find themselves on the activist ‘most wanted’ lists for 2021.»
Recently, experts have said the conditions are ripe for shareholders to go on the attack, and already this year saw a surge in UK companies facing activist demands.
Russia behind FireEye attack?
FireEye last night stopped short of identifying the nation responsible for the hack on its systems, but reports claimed that the FBI had assigned the case to its Russia experts, in what many saw as a sign of who was the most likely culprit.
This is not the first time Russia has been linked to cyber-attacks.
However, this FireEye breach is said to be among the biggest known thefts of hacking tools since 2016, when cyberweapons were stolen from the US National Security Agency (NSA). One of these was later used in the WannaCry ransomware attack, which cost the NHS an estimated £92m.
The latest attack was described as «devastating» by Theresa Payton, a former White House chief information officer, who said it was similar to Russian agents «running off with the nuclear codes».
Musk’s move to Texas
Silicon Valley billionaire Elon Musk has confirmed he has moved from California to Texas, saying the state is home to «the two biggest things that I got going on right now».
SpaceX’s Starship development and «big new US factory for Tesla» are both based in Texas. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal’s editor in chief Matt Murray, Musk said: «It wasn’t necessarily a great use of my time here (in California)».
Texas might potentially offer some tax reprieve for the world’s second richest man. It does not collect personal income tax while California has some of the highest state tax rates in the United States.
Musk has recently seen his wealth balloon as Tesla shares have risen more than six-fold this year. He owns around 18pc of the shares.
Internet companies urge EU against blanket take-down rules
Twitter, Tumblr and Vimeo have this morning written to the EU, urging it against introducing sweeping rules on illegal and harmful content.
The companies warned that blanket regulations requiring them to remove content could hurt freedom of expression on their sites.
«By limiting policy options to a solely stay up-come down binary, we forgo promising alternatives that could better address the spread and impact of problematic content while safeguarding rights and the potential for smaller companies to compete,» the companies said.
The comments come ahead of the EU unveiling new rules next week over how technology companies should deal with dangerous content on their sites. It is thought the new Digital Services Act will require social media firms to take down illegal and harmful content as soon as they have been notified of it.
Agenda: Concerns spiral over ‘state-sponsored hack’
Good morning. Hackers have stolen dangerous digital weaponry from one of the world’s leading cybersecurity firms, causing ripples across the world.
Governments and companies are on high alert after FireEye said a nation with «top-tier offensive capabilities» had made off with its «red team» hacking tools.
Five things to start your day
1) Software company Snowflake overtakes IBM in value It comes just three months after it first floated on public markets.
2) Uber dropped plans to operate flying taxi journeys The company said it had sold its Elevate division to Joby Aviation, the second exit from a futuristic market in two days.
3) The e-commerce boom is fuelling rocketing demand for warehouse space There has been a 36pc rise in demand for space this year.
4) US authorities could file antitrust lawsuits against Facebook on Wednesday The Washington Post reports that America’s FTC will accuse the company of abusing its dominance.
5) US delivery company DoorDash priced its IPO at $102 a share It values the company at $39bn.
Coming up today
DoorDash IPO to value company at $39bn