Governments, the Internet and security were the theme as Internet wiretapping, trans national cyber laws and the further
proliferation of Stuxnet – a computer virus believed to have state backing – topped this week’s news.
After more than a week of intense speculation about the origins of the mysterious Stuxnet virus, which was first identified in July, the
20thVirus Bulletin conference being held in Vancouver this week, brought still more information about the worm into the daylight.
Presentations from Microsoft,
Kaspersky Lab and Symantec researchers revealed key details about the functioning of the worm and its possible origins. In a highly anticipated talk, Liam O’ Murchu, of Symantec, dissected Stuxnet’s unique ability to control programmable logic controllers from Siemens Inc. and to show how Stuxnet might be programmed to cause machinery to run out of control, or even self destruct.
From the nation’s capital came
news that the Obama administration was pursuing a bill that would require
alternative communication services to give law enforcement access to customer’s
took the point on Wednesday and discussed how dangerous it’d be to
purposely insert security weaknesses in programs just to help the government.
National security is one thing, but crafting easily exploitable holes could be trouble
Some holes, however, were patched. On Tuesday, Microsoft
released its second out-of-band patch in recent memory. This time around,
the patch addressed September’s ASP.NET debacle. The flaw in Microsoft’s framework
was first discussed at Argentina’s Ekoparty two weeks back.
As successful of a story as the Mariposa botnet takedown has
been, the persecution of those involved may not be as easy. According
to news from Virus Bulletin, despite being arrested late last year, Spain’s
not-so-stringent laws could make it difficult to hold the botnet’s operators. Despite
evidence against the group, it’s not known whether or not it’ll be admissible.
Unlike Mariposa, some steps forward were taken with individuals
behind the popular Zeus botnet this week. 70
people from the U.S. and 20 from the U.K. were charged for being connected to
the malware campaign. Those who were charged in New York were said to be responsible
for stealing $860,000 from 34 different consumer and corporate account s.
Speaking of Zeus, on Monday researchers discovered a
variant of the malware that plagues online banking customers via mobile phones.
Disguised as a “Nokia update,” the attack focuses on Blackberry and Symbian-based
phones and (surprise!) uses a stolen digital certificate to evade security
has been the case lately for stealthy viruses, as Stuxnet uses not one but
two stolen certificates. While one certainly wonders how these certificates
have been obtained, it’s even more puzzling as to how well future users will be
able to further scrutinize their legitimacy.
What caught your eye this week? Chris
Eng’s piece on fixing XSS vulnerabilities got some love early this week, as
story about hackers from online prank site 4chan rallying against the Motion Picture Association of
America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).