Feeds

Analysts: Shamoon oil biz malware flingers were 'amateurs'

Programming errors ahoy....

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Fresh analysis of the Shamoon malware has concluded that its authors are more likely to be "skilled amateurs" rather than elite cyber-spies.

Shamoon has been linked to recent high-profile malware outbreaks at Saudi Aramco and RasGas, Gulf-based oil and gas firms. Saudi Aramco lost its network for 10 days as a result of the attack, which affected 30,000 workstations. The outbreak was particularly nasty because Shamoon contains file-wiping functionality that can make infected machines inoperable as well as destroying data.

A previously unknown group called Cutting Sword of Justice claimed responsibility for the attack. Reports by Reuters suggest an internal mole may have played a hand in spreading the malware, but this remains unconfirmed.

Security researchers at Kaspersky Labs have taken apart the malware, revealing the details of how Shamoon worked in the process. Dmitry Tarakanov concludes that controversial features, such as planting the image of a burning US flag and compromised PCs and (more damningly) coding errors mean that its more likely to be the work of amateurs than elite coders, such as the developers of either ZeuS or Stuxnet, for example.

Programming errors in the Shamoon communication module mean that the malware is incapable of downloading and running other strains of malware.

"We’ve got other clues that people behind creating the Shamoon malware are not high-profile programmers and the nature of their mistakes suggests that they are amateurs albeit skillful amateurs as they did create a quite practicable piece of self-replicating destructive malware," Tarakanov concludes at the end of his technically detailed analysis. "The fact that they used a picture of a fragment of a burning US flag possibly shows that the motive of Shamoon’s authors is to create and use malware in a politically driven way. Moreover, they wished that their protest which was embedded into the malware would not go unnoticed." ®

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
Who.is does the Harlem Shake
Blame it on LOLing XSS terroristas
Researchers tell black hats: 'YOU'RE SOOO PREDICTABLE'
Want to register that domain? We're way ahead of you.
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.