Humanity’s fear of “war without end” has yet to be completely fulfilled in the analog world, but state-sponsored cyber warfare has been afoot for years and is only getting worse. That’s one takeaway from cyber security expert Pete Warren’s report in The Guardian on government-created malware.
Mr. Warren consulted a number of anonymous security experts with military ties to get a sense of how long major governments have been developing nefarious software packages like Flame, Duqu and Stuxnet. Some systems, writes Mr. Warren, “have been under development since at least 1996.” Moreover, the United States and its allies aren’t the only nations with skin in the malware game:
“There are a lot of countries that now have these systems. Every Middle Eastern country and all the states now known as the ‘Stans’ [Pakistan and the former satellite states of the Soviet Union] have them”, said another expert with close links to the UK intelligence agencies and who is actively engaged in combating the software.
An unnamed ex-military man in London went further, telling Mr. Warren that “Every nation now has an armory; whether well-stocked or not depends on their resources.”
Like guerrilla soldiers adopting military tactics to cause destruction and mayhem, government-made software like the Flame worm has inspired copycats. The mid-August Shamoon attack, for example, targeted a Saudi-owned oil company and knocked up to 75 percent of that company’s workstations offline. Shamoon resembled Flame, but a hacker group calling itself The Cutting Sword of Justice claimed credit for Shamoon. They say they are an “anti-oppression hacker group” and are “fed up of (sic) crimes and atrocities taking place in various countries around the world.”
Ours is a brave new world, with lots of scary new creeping software in it.