03-02-2014 03:15 AM
TrustyCon A surprising number of governments are now deploying their own custom malware – and the end result could be chaos for the rest of us, F-Secure's malware chief Mikko Hyppönen told the TrustyCon conference in San Francisco on Thursday.
"Governments writing viruses: today we sort of take that for granted but 10 years ago that would have been science fiction," he told the public conference. "If someone had come to me ten years ago and told me that by 2014 it will be commonplace for democratic Western governments to write viruses and actively deploy them against other governments, even friendly governments, I would have thought it was a movie plot. But that's exactly where we are today."
The US is leading the way in this, he said, having initiated the Stuxnet malware against Iran's nuclear enrichment facilities, although the actions against the Iranians were part of a much larger program, Operation Olympic Games, which was initiated by the then-President Bush and carried on by Obama.
Hyppönen said that he had investigated a Stuxnet sample to see if it could be modified to attack other targets and found that it could, up to a point. The specific control code to interfere with the industrial SCADA control systems used by the Iranians was very difficult to reshape, but the malware could be reconfigured to introduce random controls to be sent to an infected industrial plant that could cause havoc.
Later parts of Operation Olympic Games were even more worrying, he said, particularly the Flame malware which spread using a false Windows Update system. Normally the Windows operating system refuses updates from code that isn't properly cryptographically signed, but in this case the writers appeared to have used a large team of crackers and a supercomputer to spoof Microsoft's signing key.
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03-02-2014 05:00 AM - edited 03-02-2014 05:08 AM
It does not surprise me at all, cyberwarfare of the 21st Century, it takes wars from the traditional battlefields to the hearts of countries with just a click of a mouse. Up until now it was fairly easy to see where the next threat was coming from but now because of attacks like Stuxnet etc. we can never let our guards down.
03-02-2014 09:55 AM