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A sophisticated group infected tens of thousands of ASUS brand computers with malware in a scheme to target a small handful of users, Kaspersky Lab reports. The attacks came through the official software update program ASUS Live Update Utility.

Why it matters: The operation, dubbed "Operation Shadowhammer," appears to come from a motivated, technologically adept threat — someone sophisticated enough to breach a major technology firm, patient enough to compile technical details about their intended victims to use during the attack and motivated enough to infected anyone updating their ASUS system to reach only a handful of victims.

Details:

  • Shadowhammer signed the malware it sent through the ASUS Live Update Utility using ASUS's security certificates, instructing computers to treat the malware as legitimate software updates. Companies treat certificate data as one of their most guarded secrets to prevent hackers from doing this.
  • Shadowhammer's malware checked if a system it infected was a pre-written list of around 600 computers it was specifically looking for, using unique identifiers in the networking hardware known as MAC addresses.
    • That means Shadowhammer had advance knowledge of the systems it most wanted performing follow up attacks against.

By the numbers: Kaspersky detected more than 57,000 different systems that tried to install the Shadowhammer malware. That number only includes the systems Kaspersky software protects.

Go deeper

Netflix tops 200 million global subscribers

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Netflix said that it added another 8.5 million global subscribers last quarter, bringing its total number of paid subscribers globally to more than 200 million.

The big picture: Positive fourth-quarter results show Netflix's resiliency, despite increased competition and pandemic-related production headwinds.

Janet Yellen plays down debt, tax hike concerns in confirmation hearing

Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen at an event in December. Photo: Alex Wong via Getty Images

Janet Yellen, Biden's pick to lead the Treasury Department, pushed back against two key concerns from Republican senators at her confirmation hearing on Tuesday: the country's debt and the incoming administration's plans to eventually raise taxes.

Driving the news: Yellen — who's expected to win confirmation — said spending big now will prevent the U.S. from having to dig out of a deeper hole later. She also said the Biden administration's priority right now is coronavirus relief, not raising taxes.

Trump gives farewell address: "We did what we came here to do"

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump gave a farewell video address on Tuesday, saying that his administration "did what we came here to do — and so much more."

Why it matters, via Axios' Alayna Treene: The address is very different from the Trump we've seen in his final weeks as president — one who has refused to accept his loss, who peddled conspiracy theories that fueled the attack on the Capitol, and who is boycotting his successor's inauguration.