The growing concern for cyber security may have companies scrambling to hire outside help to protect them from hackers, but yet another terrifying breach on Monday shows that even security firms aren’t immune. Tensions between hackers and security firms have apparently reached an all time high, leading to a campaign called “Operation #LeakTheAnalysts” aimed at leaking information from security researchers and analysts.
In a startling beginning to “Operation #LeakTheAnalysts,” an analyst from top U.S. security firm Mandiant fell victim to a cyber attack. According to an announcement by Mandiant on Monday, the social media accounts, email inboxes, and other sensitive information of an unlucky analyst were compromised and leaked to the public.
In an official statement, Mandiant claims that immediate investigations suggested that no other systems or accounts had been compromised despite threats made by the hackers responsible. However, the hackers purportedly stated in an online post, “Let’s go after everything they’ve got, let’s go after their countries, let’s trash their reputation in the field” (CNN). In this same post, the Operation #LeakTheAnalysts claim to have access to the analyst’s billing address and Amazon account in addition to his social media profiles and passwords.
This recent attack may only be the start of “Operation #LeakTheAnalysts” for Mandiant. Based on the details of this attack and the claims made by the hackers, other security analysts may be in trouble. Hackers working for this operation may be seeking out cyber security companies specifically to target security researchers tasked with tracing and stopping hackers. Yet so far, Mandiant and its parent company FireEye have returned no evidence showing that their internal systems have been accessed or compromised.
As accessibility and reliance on connected devices increases, the need for cyber security is growing. There is great threat to companies large and small who are everyday targeted by hackers. Damage from cyber crime is estimated to hit $6 trillion annually by 2021, according to recent studies into trends of cyber attacks, which could be disastrous for companies collecting private and sensitive data.
Mandiant, a cyber security firm offering consulting services for defense against cyber attacks and boosting security, was purchased by parent company FireEye for $1 billion in 2014. This firm has high profile clients in many industries, including financial firms and government agencies, not to mention Sony, Target, and Home Depot (CNN). As a possible response to this security breach on Monday, FireEye shares dropped about 5%. For a company focused on cyber security, an attack like this does not bode well.