Attacks/Breaches
8/5/2010
12:17 PM
50%
50%

Stuxnet 'Zero Day' Worm Not New

Symantec finds earlier variants of the Windows shortcut vulnerability, as well as evidence of significant resources behind its development.

Last month, the Stuxnet rootkit seemed to come out of nowhere, exploiting a previously unseen, zero-day shell vulnerability in most versions of the Windows operating system.

But Symantec has found that the malware is anything but new. To be precise, Stuxnet -- or at least earlier versions of it -- dates from at least June 2009.

On Monday, Microsoft patched the Windows Shell vulnerability targeted by Stuxnet. But questions remain surrounding Stuxnet, including who built it, and why.

Some answers, albeit limited, are now starting to emerge, including the fact that Stuxnet isn't new. "The threat has been under continued development as the authors added additional components, encryption, and exploits," said Symantec's Liam O Murchu, who has been studying samples of Stuxnet to learn more about the attack and documenting his findings on a Symantec blog.

"We were interested to discover if the different samples we have seen in the wild were different variants or just modifications to the wrapper with the same components embedded," he said. "Analyzing the different types of samples we have observed to date has shed some light on how long this threat has been under development and/or in use."

Surprisingly, based on his research -- admittedly, into but a subset of all the different versions of Stuxnet to be found in the wild -- he found four distinctly different types of the malware, with the oldest dating from over a year ago.

Another interesting finding is that the most recent sample of Stuxnet is smaller than the oldest sample, even though the newer version contains more functionality. "Generally, threats grow larger over time, so it is not unusual to see that the newer sample has more resources -- 14 as opposed to 11 -- but it is surprising to see that the newer samples are smaller than the older samples," said O Murchu.

The evolution of Stuxnet -- as well as its targeting of Siemens industrial automation control systems, rather than trying to build a bigger botnet -- suggests significant brains, if non-obvious motives, behind the malware.

"The amount of components and code used is very large," said O Murchu. "In addition to this, the authors' ability to adapt the threat to use an unpatched vulnerability -- to spread through removable drives -- shows that the creators of this threat have huge resources available to them and have the time needed to spend on such a big task."

In other words, "this is most certainly not a 'teenage hacker coding in his bedroom' type operation," he said.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
DNS Threats: What Every Enterprise Should Know
Domain Name System exploits could put your data at risk. Here's some advice on how to avoid them.
Flash Poll
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2013-7445
Published: 2015-10-15
The Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) subsystem in the Linux kernel through 4.x mishandles requests for Graphics Execution Manager (GEM) objects, which allows context-dependent attackers to cause a denial of service (memory consumption) via an application that processes graphics data, as demonstrated b...

CVE-2015-4948
Published: 2015-10-15
netstat in IBM AIX 5.3, 6.1, and 7.1 and VIOS 2.2.x, when a fibre channel adapter is used, allows local users to gain privileges via unspecified vectors.

CVE-2015-5660
Published: 2015-10-15
Cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerability in eXtplorer before 2.1.8 allows remote attackers to hijack the authentication of arbitrary users for requests that execute PHP code.

CVE-2015-6003
Published: 2015-10-15
Directory traversal vulnerability in QNAP QTS before 4.1.4 build 0910 and 4.2.x before 4.2.0 RC2 build 0910, when AFP is enabled, allows remote attackers to read or write to arbitrary files by leveraging access to an OS X (1) user or (2) guest account.

CVE-2015-6333
Published: 2015-10-15
Cisco Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) 1.1j allows local users to gain privileges via vectors involving addition of an SSH key, aka Bug ID CSCuw46076.

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio

The cybersecurity profession struggles to retain women (figures range from 10 to 20 percent). It's particularly worrisome for an industry with a rapidly growing number of vacant positions.

So why does the shortage of women continue to be worse in security than in other IT sectors? How can men in infosec be better allies for women; and how can women be better allies for one another? What is the industry doing to fix the problem -- what's working, and what isn't?

Is this really a problem at all? Are the low numbers simply an indication that women do not want to be in cybersecurity, and is it possible that more women will never want to be in cybersecurity? How many women would we need to see in the industry to declare success?

Join Dark Reading senior editor Sara Peters and guests Angela Knox of Cloudmark, Barrett Sellers of Arbor Networks, Regina Wallace-Jones of Facebook, Steve Christey Coley of MITRE, and Chris Roosenraad of M3AAWG on Wednesday, July 13 at 1 p.m. Eastern Time to discuss all this and more.