Monday, 28 May 2012 22:37

Flame, the Cyber Weapon

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Flame, the Cyber Weapon

A highly sophisticated computer virus is infecting computers in Middle Eastern and North African countries.  It appears to have been at least five years ago.  Is this state-sponsored cyber espionage?

Kaspersky Lab, a Russian cyber-security software maker, said it discovered the virus, dubbed Flame, after a U.N. telecommunications agency asked it to analyze data on malicious software across the Middle East in search of the data-wiping virus reported by Iran.

According to Kaspersky Lab, there is evidence to suggest that the virus resembles the Stuxnet worm that attacked Iran's nuclear program in 2010.
If Kaspersky's findings are validated, Flame could go down in history as the third major cyber weapon uncovered after Stuxnet and its data-stealing cousin Duqu, named after the Star Wars villain.

Hungarian researcher Boldizsar Bencsath, whose Laboratory of Cryptography and Systems Security first discovered Duqu, said his analysis shows that Flame may have been active for at least five years and perhaps eight years or more.
That implies it was active long before Stuxnet.

"It's huge and overly complex, which makes me think it's a first-generation data gathering tool," said Neil Fisher, vice president for global security solutions at Unisys Corp. "We are going to find more of these things over time."

Others said cyber weapons technology has inevitably advanced since Flame was built.

"The scary thing for me is: if this is what they were capable of five years ago, I can only think what they are developing now," Mohan Koo, managing director of British-based Dtex Systems cyber security company.

Some experts speculated that the discovery of the virus may have dealt a psychological blow to its victims, on top of whatever damage Flame may have already inflicted to their computers.

"If a government initiated the attack it might not care that the attack was discovered," said Klimburg of the Austrian Institute for International Affairs. "The psychological effect of the penetration could be nearly as profitable as the intelligence gathered."

Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/28/net-us-cyberwar-flame-idUSBRE84R0E420120528
Source: http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9227524/Researchers_identify_Stuxnet_like_malware_called_Flame_?taxonomyId=85
Source: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2404951,00.asp
Source: http://edition.cnn.com/2012/05/28/business/iran-cyberwar-tehran/index.html
Source: http://www.zdnet.com/blog/btl/flame-most-complex-cyber-attack-ever-discovered/78325

Read 2615 times Last modified on Monday, 28 May 2012 22:46
Rich Wermske

My pedigree and bona fides are published elsewhere. That said, I respect that a few may wish to learn more about the private person behind the writing.  While I accept I am exceptionally introverted (tending toward the misanthropic), I do enjoy socializing and sharing time with like-minded individuals. I have a zeal for integrity, ethics, and the economics of both interpersonal and organizational behavior.

The product of multi-generational paternal dysfunction, I practice healthy recovery (sobriety date December 11, 2001).  I am endogamous in my close personal relationships and belong to a variety of tribes that shape my worldview (in no particular order):

☯ I participate in and enjoy most geek culture. ☯ I am a practicing Buddhist and a legally ordained minister. I like to believe that people of other spiritual/faith systems find me approachable.  I am a member of the GLBTQA community -- I married my long-time partner in a ceremony officiated by Jeralita "Jeri" Costa of Joyful Joinings on November 18, 2013, certificated in King County, Seattle WA. We celebrate an anniversary date of February 2, 2002.  I am a service-connected, disabled, American veteran (USAF).  I am a University of Houston alumnus (BBA/MIS) and currently studying as a post baccalaureate for an additional degree in Philosophy and Law, Values, & Policy.  I am a retired Bishop in the Church of Commerce and Capitalism; the story arch of my prosecuting and proselytizing the technological proletariat is now behind me.  I am a native Houstonian (and obviously Texan).  At 50 years old, I am a "child of the sixties" and consider the 80's to be my formative years.

As I still struggle with humility, I strive to make willingness, honesty, and open mindedness cornerstones in all my affairs. Fourteen years of sobriety has taught me that none of "this" means a thing if I'm unwilling, dishonest, or close minded.  Therefore I work hard on the things I believe in --

  • I believe we can always achieve more if we collaborate and compromise.
  • I believe that liberal(ism) is a good word/concept and something to be proud to support.  The modern, systematic corruption of liberal ideas is a living human tragedy.
  • I believe in a worldview founded on ideas of liberty and equality. The pragmatism of this site and my journey is rooted in both classical and social liberalism.
  • I believe in democratic elections and institutions including a media free of commercial and governmental bias.  Liberty and equality perish when a society becomes uneducated and/or ill-informed.
  • I believe in diversity of life and ideas.  Life and ideas can only flourish when the gene pool is vast and abundantly differentiated.
  • I believe in advancing balance in civil, social, and privacy rights such that all of humanity is continuously uplifted.
  • I believe in separation of church (spirituality) and state (governance) -- with neither in supremacy nor subjugation.
  • I believe in private (real or tangible) property explicitly excluding ideas, knowledge, and methods; such non-tangibles, by natural law, being free for all humanity and emancipated at conception.

While change and the uncertainty of the future may be uncomfortable, I do not fear the unknown; therefore:

    • I believe I must be willing to make difficult choices, that those choices may not be all that I desire, and that such may result in undesirable (or unintended) consequences;
    • I believe we must be willing to make mistakes or be wrong; and I am willing to change my mind if necessary.
I undertake to abide the five precepts of Buddhism; therefore:
  1. I believe it is wrong to kill or to knowingly allow others to kill.
  2. I believe it is wrong to steal or to knowingly allow others to steal.
  3. I believe in abstention from sexual misconduct.
  4. I believe it is wrong to lie or to knowingly allow others to lie.
  5. I believe in abstention from non-medicinal intoxicants as such clouds the mind.

Suicide, major depression, borderline personality, and alcoholism are feral monsters ever howling at my doorstep. However, despite my turbulent and tragic past, rare is the day where I have to rationalize, defend, or justify the actions of that person I see looking back at me in the mirror...

Website: www.wermske.com
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