Feeds

Stuxnet code leak to cause CYBER-APOCALYPSE NOW!

Get a grip, Sky News

SANS - Survey on application security programs

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. ®

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
Parent gabfest Mumsnet hit by SSL bug: My heart bleeds, grins hacker
Natter-board tells middle-class Britain to purée its passwords
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Web data BLEEDOUT: Users to feel the pain as Heartbleed bug revealed
Vendors and ISPs have work to do updating firmware - if it's possible to fix this
Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches
German service pays tribute to Lavabit
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
NSA denies it knew about and USED Heartbleed encryption flaw for TWO YEARS
Agency forgets it exists to protect communications, not just spy on them
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.