Feeds

Analysts: Shamoon oil biz malware flingers were 'amateurs'

Programming errors ahoy....

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

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." ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
14 antivirus apps found to have security problems
Vendors just don't care, says researcher, after finding basic boo-boos in security software
Only '3% of web servers in top corps' fully fixed after Heartbleed snafu
Just slapping a patched OpenSSL on a machine ain't going to cut it, we're told
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.