Reuters is now reporting that unknown hackers infected the computers of some Apple workers when they visited a website for software developers that had been infected with malicious software. The malware had been designed to attack Mac computers, the company said in a statement provided to Reuters.
The same software, which infected Macs by exploiting a flaw in a version of Oracle Corp's Java software used as a plug-in on Web browsers, was used to launch attacks against Facebook, which the social network disclosed on Friday.
The malware was also employed in attacks against Mac computers used by "other companies," Apple said, without elaborating on the scale of the assault.
But a person briefed on the investigation into the attacks said that hundreds of companies, including defense contractors, had been infected with the same malicious software, or malware.
Last week our MoreNews segment pointed to a report titled "Welcome to the Malware-Industrial Complex," and just this morning our MoreNews segment pointed to researchers that named "Three Hackers Tied to One of China's Most Active Military Intrusion Teams."
Cyber-security attacks have been on the rise. In last week's State of the Union address, U.S. President Barack Obama issued an executive order seeking better protection of the country's critical infrastructure from cyber-attacks.
Prior to the State of the Union address, Patently Apple had noted back in October that the US was preparing First-Strike Cyber-Forces.
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has stated in October that "If we detect an imminent threat of attack that will cause significant physical destruction in the United States or kill American citizens, we need to have the option to take action against those who would attack us, to defend this nation when directed by the president," Mr. Panetta said. "For these kinds of scenarios, the department has developed the capability to conduct effective operations to counter threats to our national interests in cyberspace."
We noted in our report that "Clearly the Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta is ensuring that the public be made aware of this serious threat so that it comes as no surprise if and when such a major foreign cyberattack occurs."
Attacks on Facebook, Apple and other tech companies may be just the tip of the iceberg as to what may be coming next.
Reuters noted that the statement given to them by Apple stated that they were working closely with law enforcement to find the culprits, but the spokesman would not elaborate. The FBI declined to comment.
At this time no one has yet to confirm whether the attack on Apple was set off from within North America by cyber criminals or by a foreign spy agency. Just last week Europol broke up multi-million euro Internet fraud gang. This is gearng up to be an ongoing theme throughout 2013 and beyond.
Also Read: Successful hacker attack could cripple U.S. infrastructure, experts say
Update Feb. 20, 2013: Apple releases malware removal tool after being hit by computer hackers