Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Lots of interesting things to read about Flame

Over the last few days, the discussion about the "Flame" virus has been fascinating.

Here's a few of the interesting tidbits I've noticed:

  • Mikko Hypponen of F-Secure looks at the role of AntiVirus software vendors in the (non-)detection of Flame in his article at Wired: Why Antivirus Companies Like Mine Failed to Catch Flame and Stuxnet
    As far as we can tell, before releasing their malicious codes to attack victims, the attackers tested them against all of the relevant antivirus products on the market to make sure that the malware wouldn’t be detected.
  • Kurt Wismer reflects on Chris Soghoian's observations about national intelligence agencies and their role in cyberwar, and talks about some of the implications of Flame's use of the Windows Update vector for transmission, in his article:
    we placed trust in microsoft's code, in the automaton they designed, not because it was trustworthy, but because it was more convenient than being forced to make the equivalent decisions ourselves. furthermore, we relied on it for protecting consumers because it's easier than educating them (in fact many still don't believe this can or should be done).
  • Richard Bejtlich follows up on the points made by Soghoian and Wismer, in his article Flame Hypocrisy, and links to an article by David Gilbert in the International Business Times: US Government Behind Flame Virus According to Expert, in which Mikko Hypponen is quoted as saying:
    If the US government did direct one of its intelligence agencies to attack an American company of the reputation and size of Microsoft, it would mark a major turning point in cyber espionage activity.

    Hypponen told IBTimes UK that he was planning on writing an open letter to Barack Obama this week to say: "Stop taking away the trust from the most important system we have, which is Microsoft Windows Updates."

  • And, today, Kim Zetter of Wired has an article: Report: US and Israel Behind Flame Espionage Tool, following up on last week's article: Researchers Connect Flame to US-Israel Stuxnet Attack. Zetter links to this article published in the Washington Post: U.S., Israel developed Flame computer virus to slow Iranian nuclear efforts, officials say, which is unfortunately behind a paywall, but is said to confirm the role of the U.S. Government in developing the Flame and Stuxnet malware.

Really, did you go watch Soghoian's speech? It's not that long (12 minutes), and very interesting. Go. Watch. It.

Medical professionals don't like the idea that the CIA will pretend to be them, for the simple reason that many of these NGO health roles require the trust of individuals, and if people think you are a spook, they aren't going to let you poke needles in them. ... But, we want horrible diseases to be eradicated. That's what's important for our security. ... We need people in these parts of the world to trust medical professionals.

Scary discussions, scary thoughts.

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