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Paul Merrell

#Vault7: CIA's secret cyberweapon can infiltrate world's most secure networks - RT Viral - 0 views

  • WikiLeaks’ latest release in its Vault7 series details how the CIA’s alleged ‘Brutal Kangaroo’ program is being used to penetrate the most secure networks in the world.
  • Brutal Kangaroo, a tool suite for Microsoft Windows, targets closed air gapped networks by using thumb drives, according to WikiLeaks.

    Air gapping is a security measure employed on one or more computers to ensure that a secure computer network is physically isolated from unsecured networks.

  • These networks are used by financial institutions, military and intelligence agencies, the nuclear power industry, as well as even some advanced news networks to protect sources, according to La Repubblica journalist Stefania Maurizi.

    READ MORE: ‘CIA’s Cherry Bomb’: WikiLeaks #Vault7 reveals wireless network targets

    These newly released documents show how closed networks not connected to the internet can be compromised by this malware. However, the tool only works on machines with a Windows operating system.

    Firstly, an internet-connected computer within the targeted organization is infected with the malware. When a user inserts a USB stick into this computer, the thumbdrive itself is infected with a separate malware.

    Once this is inserted into a single computer on the air gapped network the infection jumps – like a kangaroo – across the entire system, enabling sabotage and data theft.

    If multiple computers on the closed network are under CIA control, they “form a covert network to coordinate tasks and data exchange,” according to Wikileaks.

    Data can be returned to the CIA once again, although this does depend on someone connecting the USB used on the closed networ

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  • While it may not appear to be the most efficient CIA project, it allows the intelligence agency to infiltrate otherwise unreachable networks.

    This method is comparable to the Stuxnet virus, a cyberweapon purportedly built by the US and Israel. Stuxnet is thought to have caused substantial damage to Iran's nuclear program in 2010.

    The CIA allegedly began developing the Brutal Kangaroo program in 2012 – two years after Stuxnet incident in Iran.

    The most recent of these files were to intended to remain secret until at least 2035. The documents released by WikiLeaks are dated February 2016, indicating that the scheme was likely being used until that point.

Paul Merrell

WikiLeaks Reveals Details Of CIA "Archimedes" Tool Used To Hack Local Area Networks - 0 views

  • In its seventh CIA leak since March 23rd, WikiLeaks has just revealed the user manual of a CIA hacking tool known as ‘Archimedes’ which is purportedly used to attack computers inside a Local Area Network (LAN).  The CIA tool works by redirecting a target’s

    The CIA tool works by redirecting a target’s web page search to a CIA server which serves up a web page that looks exactly like the original page they were expecting to be served, but which contains malware.

    It’s only possible to detect the attack by examining the page source.

Paul Merrell

What to Do About Lawless Government Hacking and the Weakening of Digital Security | Ele... - 0 views

  • In our society, the rule of law sets limits on what government can and cannot do, no matter how important its goals. To give a simple example, even when chasing a fleeing murder suspect, the police have a duty not to endanger bystanders. The government should pay the same care to our safety in pursuing threats online, but right now we don’t have clear, enforceable rules for government activities like hacking and "digital sabotage." And this is no abstract question—these actions increasingly endanger everyone’s security
  • The problem became especially clear this year during the San Bernardino case, involving the FBI’s demand that Apple rewrite its iOS operating system to defeat security features on a locked iPhone. Ultimately the FBI exploited an existing vulnerability in iOS and accessed the contents of the phone with the help of an "outside party." Then, with no public process or discussion of the tradeoffs involved, the government refused to tell Apple about the flaw. Despite the obvious fact that the security of the computers and networks we all use is both collective and interwoven—other iPhones used by millions of innocent people presumably have the same vulnerability—the government chose to withhold information Apple could have used to improve the security of its phones.

    Other examples include intelligence activities like Stuxnet and Bullrun, and law enforcement investigations like the FBI’s mass use of malware against Tor users engaged in criminal behavior. These activities are often disproportionate to stopping legitimate threats, resulting in unpatched software for millions of innocent users, overbroad surveillance, and other collateral effects. 

    That’s why we’re working on a positive agenda to confront governmental threats to digital security. Put more directly,

  • Smart people in academia and elsewhere have been thinking and writing about these issues for years. But it’s time to take the next step and make clear, public rules that carry the force of law to ensure that the government weighs the tradeoffs and reaches the right decisions.

    This long post outlines some of the things that can be done. It frames the issue, then describes some of the key areas where EFF is already pursuing this agenda—in particular formalizing the rules for disclosing vulnerabilities and setting out narrow limits for the use of government malware. Finally it lays out where we think the debate should go from here.   

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    It's not often that I disagree with EFF's positions, but on this one I do. The government should be prohibited from exploiting computer vulnerabilities and should be required to immediately report all vulnerabilities discovered to the relevant developers of hardware or software.

    It's been one long slippery slope since the Supreme Court first approved wiretapping in Olmstead v. United States, 277 US 438 (1928), https://goo.gl/NJevsr (.) Left undecided to this day is whether we have a right to whisper privately, a right that is undeniable. All communications intercept cases since Olmstead fly directly in the face of that right.
Paul Merrell

Secret Malware in European Union Attack Linked to U.S. and British Intelligence - The I... - 0 views

  • Complex malware known as Regin is the suspected technology behind sophisticated cyberattacks conducted by U.S. and British intelligence agencies on the European Union and a Belgian telecommunications company, according to security industry sources and technical analysis conducted by The Intercept.

    Regin was found on infected internal computer systems and email servers at Belgacom, a partly state-owned Belgian phone and internet provider, following reports last year that the company was targeted in a top-secret surveillance operation carried out by British spy agency Government Communications Headquarters, industry sources told The Intercept.

    The malware, which steals data from infected systems and disguises itself as legitimate Microsoft software, has also been identified on the same European Union computer systems that were targeted for surveillance by the National Security Agency.

  • The hacking operations against Belgacom and the European Union were first revealed last year through documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. The specific malware used in the attacks has never been disclosed, however.
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