Feeds

Japan tasks Fujitsu with creating search-and-destroy cyber-weapon

Zombie boss hunter developed in lab

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Fujitsu has been commissioned to develop ‘seek and destroy’ malware, reportedly designed to track and disable the sources of cyber-attacks.

The fledgling cyber-weapon is the result of a three-year $2.3 million project that also involved developing tools capable of monitoring and analysing the sources of hacking attacks, The Daily Yomiuri reports. Deploying the technology would involve clearing both practical and legislative hurdles.

Tracing the source of cyber-attacks is notoriously difficult, mainly because attackers routinely hide behind botnets and anonymous proxies to launch attacks, such as denial of service assaults. The malware reportedly developed by Fujitsu is designed to trace connections back to their controlling hosts before disabling them.

Getting this right is a far from trivial process and the potential for collateral damage, even before hackers develop countermeasures, appears to be considerable. Another problem is that, if the tool is ever released, it could fall into the hands of miscreants who might reverse-engineer it before adapting it for their own nefarious purposes.

The malware is reportedly been tested in a "closed network environment". The tool reportedly has the greatest potential in tracking back the sources of DDoS attacks. Whether it's any good at the much more difficult process of picking out stealthy industrial espionage-style information-stealing attempts remains unclear.

Japanese law currently prohibits offensive responses in retaliation to cyber-attacks, another potential problem but one that's easier to resolve perhaps by updating current laws. The current prohibition has more to do with post-Second World War agreements that restrict Japanese military capabilities than local laws against the creation of computer viruses.

Japan is a prime target for cyber-attacks and suffered numerous assaults last year alone. Reported victims include Japan’s parliament and industrial giant Mitsubishi.

The Defense Ministry's Technical Research and Development Institute is understood to have outsourced the development of the tool to Fujitsu. A Defense Ministry official played down talk of offensive applications for the software and told The Daily Yomiuri that it was designed for applications such as tracing the source of cyber-attacks against Japanese Self-Defense Force systems. However Prof Motohiro Tsuchiya of Keio University, a member of a government panel on information security policy, said Japan ought to accelerate cyber-weapons development.

Fujitsu declined to comment about the supposed cyber-weapon, citing client confidentiality. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
George Clooney, WikiLeaks' lawyer wife hand out burner phones to wedding guests
Day 4: 'News'-papers STILL rammed with Clooney nuptials
Shellshock: 'Larger scale attack' on its way, warn securo-bods
Not just web servers under threat - though TENS of THOUSANDS have been hit
Apple's new iPhone 6 vulnerable to last year's TouchID fingerprint hack
But unsophisticated thieves need not attempt this trick
PEAK IPV4? Global IPv6 traffic is growing, DDoS dying, says Akamai
First time the cache network has seen drop in use of 32-bit-wide IP addresses
Oracle SHELLSHOCKER - data titan lists unpatchables
Database kingpin lists 32 products that can't be patched (yet) as GNU fixes second vuln
Researchers tell black hats: 'YOU'RE SOOO PREDICTABLE'
Want to register that domain? We're way ahead of you.
Stunned by Shellshock Bash bug? Patch all you can – or be punished
UK data watchdog rolls up its sleeves, polishes truncheon
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.