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Russian hacking group reportedly exploited Flash, Windows

The group, called APT28, allegedly targets militaries and other organizations for information that would benefit the Russian government.

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The hacking group reportedly exploited security holes in Adobe's Flash and Microsoft's Windows. Getty Images/Ikon Images

A group of Russian hackers has been using flaws in two popular pieces of software -- Adobe's Flash and Microsoft's Windows operating system -- to try to get information about other governments, according to a report published by FireEye, a well-known United States security firm.

FireEye in October said the group, called APT28, is after information about governments, militaries and security organizations -- including the US and other diplomatic targets -- that would "likely benefit the Russian government."

One of the ways it has been doing that has been to exploit security holes in Windows, the top operating system for desktop computers, and Adobe's Flash, which lets you see animations and designs on the Web. Reuters earlier wrote about the FireEye report.

Adobe has already issued a fix and Microsoft is currently working on one, according to FireEye. The Microsoft problem is reportedly less dangerous because it involves "enhanced powers" on a computer that an ordinary user would not have, according to Reuters.

Adobe and Microsoft did not immediately return requests for comment.

Cybersecurity has become a top of mind issue not only in Silicon Valley but across all other industries. Part of that is thanks to high-profile attacks in recent years against governments, newspapers and big companies. A devastating hack of Sony Entertainment in November revealed embarrassing secrets about the company, including financial data, information about its executives and plans for upcoming projects. Some, including the FBI, blamed the hack on the North Korean government.

The report comes a day before the beginning of the RSA conference in San Francisco, the US's largest confab of companies and experts from the cyber security industry.

APT28 has been at it since 2007 and allegedly has a government sponsor based in Moscow, said FireEye. Other security firms have tied the group to a breach in the US State Department, seeking information about President Barack Obama's travel schedule.