Attacks/Breaches
8/5/2010
12:17 PM
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
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
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Flash Poll
Current Issue
Cartoon
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2013-6117
Published: 2014-07-11
Dahua DVR 2.608.0000.0 and 2.608.GV00.0 allows remote attackers to bypass authentication and obtain sensitive information including user credentials, change user passwords, clear log files, and perform other actions via a request to TCP port 37777.

CVE-2014-0174
Published: 2014-07-11
Cumin (aka MRG Management Console), as used in Red Hat Enterprise MRG 2.5, does not include the HTTPOnly flag in a Set-Cookie header for the session cookie, which makes it easier for remote attackers to obtain potentially sensitive information via script access to this cookie.

CVE-2014-3485
Published: 2014-07-11
The REST API in the ovirt-engine in oVirt, as used in Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (rhevm) 3.4, allows remote authenticated users to read arbitrary files and have other unspecified impact via unknown vectors, related to an XML External Entity (XXE) issue.

CVE-2014-3499
Published: 2014-07-11
Docker 1.0.0 uses world-readable and world-writable permissions on the management socket, which allows local users to gain privileges via unspecified vectors.

CVE-2014-3503
Published: 2014-07-11
Apache Syncope 1.1.x before 1.1.8 uses weak random values to generate passwords, which makes it easier for remote attackers to guess the password via a brute force attack.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Marilyn Cohodas and her guests look at the evolving nature of the relationship between CIO and CSO.