Hacker Uses TRITON Malware to Infiltrate Critical Infrastructure Sites

Today’s topics include the TRITON attack targeting critical infrastructure; Baidu and Microsoft using AMD’s new EPYC chips in their cloud environments; Amazon resuming sales of Google’s Chromecast; and Microsoft adding a scheduling tool to Skype Interviews.

Online attackers were able to infiltrate a critical-infrastructure network, compromising systems and deploying malware designed to manipulate a system that could have shut down industrial processes, security firm FireEye revealed on Dec. 14.

FireEye researchers said the attack, which is dubbed TRITON, was “consistent with numerous attack and reconnaissance activities carried out globally by Russian, Iranian, North Korean, U.S., and Israeli nation state actors.” The malware could have stopped the critical-infrastructure’s systems from properly responding, leading to real-world damages, the company warned.

FireEye did not identify any specific nation-state as the likely aggressor, but said it is moderately confident that the attacker is a government-sponsored group. Other security firms believe the target of the attack to be a Saudi Arabian firm, and the attackers to be Iranian.

Chinese internet search company Baidu last week announced that it will use Advanced Micro Devices’ new EPYC server chip in some systems that are part of its artificial intelligence, big data and cloud computing services The company believes the chips will bring greater efficiency and flexibility to its cloud services offerings.

Liu Chao, senior director of Baidu’s System Technologies Department, said, "By offering outstanding performance in single-processor systems, the AMD EPYC platform provides flexibility and high performance in our data center, which allows Baidu to deliver more efficient services to our customers.”

The announcement comes a week after AMD announced that Microsoft would become the first major cloud provider to use the EPYC chips on its cloud platform, in this case Azure Cloud.

In a move that could de-escalate some of the growing tension between the two companies, Amazon has decided to once again sell Google's Chromecast video streaming device two years after removing it from its online retailing site. The move comes just days after Google said it would block users of Amazon's Fire TV from accessing YouTube starting Jan. 1.

Google had described the planned move as a response to Amazon's continued refusal to carry products such as Chromecast, Google Home and its Nest line of smart home products. In response, Amazon said it would work with Google to resolve the issue.

A Google spokesman hinted progress is being made between the two companies: "We are in productive discussions with Amazon to reach an agreement for the benefit of our mutual customers,” he said.

Microsoft has added a scheduling component to Skype Interviews, its browser-based tool that serves as an alternative to in-person job interviews, particularly for employers looking to fill software development roles. Skype Interviews now includes Skype Interviews Scheduler, a tool that helps both recruiters and job candidates align their calendars.

"With an embedded interview link, candidates can launch an interview directly from their calendar,” Skype officials said.

To send an invitation, a recruiter enters both the interviewer's and candidate's information and either manually selects a date and time for the interview or allows the service's Smart Scheduler to come up with a few options. When both parties agree on a time slot, the service automatically sends a calendar invitation with a link that allows them to join an interview.