Last week's revelation of a series of targeted Chinese cyber attacks on Google and at least 20 other firms was a "watershed" moment in cyber security, according to George Kurtz, chief technology officer at security giant McAfee.
Writing on the firm's Security Insights blog yesterday, Kurtz said that, although his researchers see " lots of attacks that use complex malware combined with zero-day exploits", the attack on Google, which McAfee has dubbed 'Operation Aurora', was notable for its motivation and sophistication.
"What really makes this is a watershed moment in cyber security is the targeted and co-ordinated nature of the attack, with the main goal appearing to be to steal core intellectual property," he wrote.
"The list of organisations reported to have been hit by the cyber attack continues to grow. As a result, many companies and governments are asking us how they can determine if they were targeted in the same sophisticated cyber attack that hit Google."
It was thought at first that flaws in Adobe software had been exploited to try and gain entry into Google's systems, but it later emerged that the hackers in fact used a zero-day vulnerability in Internet Explorer. That code is now publicly available, increasing the urgency of a patch.
Microsoft has since released an updated security advisory urging users to upgrade to version 8 of the popular browser, which is unaffected.
"Customers should also consider applying the workarounds and mitigations provided in our Security Advisory, such as putting internet zone security settings to High," said a Microsoft spokesperson.
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