The attacks, dubbed Operation Aurora by McAfee, display characteristics more typical of government intrusion attempts than financial scams, and represent a new and world-changing threat model,, according to some observers.
Certainly the target differs from credit card and other financial information. The Chinese hackers evidently behind the attacks were going after intellectual property at the targeted companies.
Microsoft's Mike Reavey noted in a blog that "specific corporate networks are becoming more prevalent in the threat landscape."
In a security advisory, Microsoft stated that the attacks detected so far have been directed at IE 6, nor have they received reports of more general attacks against their customer.
Which should be of small comfort. A new wave of sophisticated, targeted attacks is unlikely to be halted by the identification -- and one hopes rapid patching -- of a specific vulnerability.
Rather, it appears that the New Year is already bringing with it a look at the next new thing in attacks, attack strategies and targets.
Welcome to the future.