US agencies sound alarm on 2 malware threats targeting Ukraine

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and FBI alerted organizations to two malware threats that can destroy computer systems and render them inoperable.

According to an advisory published Feb. 26, the malware threats, known as WhisperGate and HermeticWiper, have been used against organizations in Ukraine. 

WhisperGate is designed to render devices inoperable while HermeticWiper targets Windows devices and manipulates the master boot record, which results in boot failure, the advisory said.

The malware, which could affect U.S. healthcare, can cause unintentional collateral damage, as the threats may target and spread through common enterprise-level applications, including those designed to maintain network security, such as patch management systems and antivirus software. The malware can also spread rapidly through email and instant messaging without any command from hackers.

The federal agencies warn that organizations must be on high alert as severe economic sanctions targeting Russia can increase the likelihood of cyber retaliation against the U.S.

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