Stuxnet code leak to cause CYBER-APOCALYPSE NOW!
Get a grip, Sky News
Source code for the sophisticated Stuxnet worm has reportedly made it onto underground forums where it is been offered up for sale at some unspecified price.
This not entirely unexpected development, first reported by Sky News, has prompted the satellite TV channel to get for broke with a loosely substantiated story sensationally headlined "Super Virus A Target For Cyber Terrorists". Sky quotes unnamed senior IT security sources sources to report the "virus is in the hands of bad guys".
The malware could now be adapted and used to shut down power stations, "the transport network across the UK" and the 999 system, according to Will Gilpin, an IT security consultant to the UK government. Gilpin goes on to conclude, at the end of an accompanying video report, that we're a generation behind and have already lost the war in cyberspace.
These dire warnings of doom are nothing more than alarmist claptrap, according to Paul Ducklin of Sophos, who criticises the report for stating assumptions as fact as well as for sensationalism.
Ducklin is far more worried about the very real problem posed by cybercrooks raiding bank accounts and subverting payment systems, a concern we wholeheartedly share.
"The problem with inaccurate, inflammatory and irresponsible stories about Stuxnet - good though they may be for page impressions and video views - is that they make cybercriminality sound like a second-rate problem when it is positioned against a news backdrop alleging cyberwar," Ducklin writes.
Stuxnet is highly sophisticated worm that selectively targets industrial control systems from Siemens. The most well-publicised incident of infection was at the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran but it's far from clear if the worm sabotaged systems carrying out uranium enrichment at Natanz or at Iran's controversial Bushehr nuclear power plant, which has been subject to delays. It's even less clear who developed the malware.
Whoever created the code used four Windows zero-day vulnerabilities, now exposed, and must have done a great deal of testing on industrial control systems. Adapting the worm for another target would take a almost equivalent level of expertise.
The idea that "cyberterrorists" are poised to unleash variants of this malware at 999 systems or the UK transport network belongs in the same category as claims that Iraq might be able to deploy biological weapons within 45 minutes in discredited documents published by the UK government prior to the start of the disastrous invasion of the country.
It really is that bad.
Stuxnet is a complex threat, and the Iranian nuclear angle certainly adds spice, so it's a bit easy for the general media to get a bit carried away. For a very good – non-sensationalist – info on the Stuxnet worm we can offer no better resource than F-Secure's well-written redux here. ®
I assume then, from the same people who bring you Faux news, that my dishwasher and washing machine will soon be controlled from Iran/Iraq/China/Israel etc. etc. and they will subvert the toaster and microwave in turn.
Never again will I be able to go to the kitchen at night unarmed.
The central heating will either be on full or nothing and I fear for the safety and sanity of the DECT phones.
Private Fraser was right, Sky News(?) is right - we're all doomed!
Your are not far off
Your dishawasher will be controlled by your smart house controller.
IMO, there is nothing inherently wrong with that idea if I control it and control it via a device which is mine for which they supply information. I am slowly building something along the same lines myself in my house and I am not the only to reduce my power bills.
That however is not how a lot of players in this field see it. If you read most of the proposals for the Government Smart Metering consultations as well as the pre-consultation work by the Energy retailers association it is EDF, British Gas or the comms supplier like Vodafone who wants to do that and insist on _OWNING_ the equipment which controls it.
That would still have been fine (or kind'a fine) if the equipment was designed by the usual Internet, comms or even mass market retail players. That however is not the case - it is being design by the same people who design SCADA and industrial telemetry systems.
I have been saying this for years long before this Stuxnet affair - they are utterly clueless and oblivious to the way the real world functions. SCADA security is a joke. They think that by jacking up access control to crazy levels they have secured the system.
Wrong, the hacker's job is to circumvent access control and Stuxnet has show just how easy it is to do it with a SCADA system. We, who do real Internet work of any kind have know this for years.
The energy sector is yet to learn that. If it did it would not have tried designing smart meters running Windows XP embedded. Which is what it does now.
So, coming back to your question. How do you feel about _ALL_ appliances in your house _AND_ _THE_ _MAIN_ _OFF_ _SWITCH_ (that is what a smart meter is) being under control of a Windows XP appliance with userland code written by a someone who have never ever had to write any code exposed to a real Internet security threat. How do you feel knowing that this is connected to both a local network to talk to a display using a commoditity protocol, to a WAN and probably even to your local network to give you a daily dose of greenwash?
Are you feeling fine? I bet you do :)
Worse than that
It will download swan-roasting immigrant homosexuals directly into YOUR CHILD's bedroom.
Be afraid. Be VERY afraid. And vote Tory.