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STATE ACTORS: Justice Department Disrupts Snake Malware Controlled by Russia's FSB

STATE ACTORS: Justice Department Announces Disruption of Snake Malware Controlled by Russia's FSB
Syndicated By: Iain Fraser - Cybersecurity Journalist Gibraltar

9th May 2023

Through Operation MEDUSA, the FBI, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York Neutralised the FSB’s Premier Cyber-espionage Malware Implant in Coordination with Multiple Foreign Governments

The Justice Department today announced the completion of a court-authorised operation, code-named MEDUSA, to disrupt a global peer-to-peer network of computers compromised by sophisticated malware, called “Snake”, that the United States Government attributes to a unit within Center 16 of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB).  

For nearly 20 years, this unit, referred to in court documents as “Turla,” has used versions of the Snake malware to steal sensitive documents from hundreds of computer systems in at least 50 countries, which have belonged to North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member governments, journalists, and other targets of interest to the Russian Federation.  After stealing these documents, Turla exfiltrated them through a covert network of unwitting Snake-compromised computers in the United States and around the world. 

Operation MEDUSA disabled Turla’s Snake malware on compromised computers through the use of an FBI-created tool named PERSEUS, which issued commands that caused the Snake malware to overwrite its own vital components.  Within the United States, the operation was executed by the FBI pursuant to a search warrant issued by United States Magistrate Judge Cheryl L. Pollak of the Eastern District of New York, which authorised remote access to the compromised computers.  

This morning, the Court unsealed redacted versions of the affidavit submitted in support of the application for the search warrant, and of the search warrant issued by the Court.  For victims outside the United States, the FBI is engaging with local authorities to provide both notice of Snake infections within those authorities’ countries and remediation guidance. Learn More /...

Iain Fraser Cybersecurity Journalist

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